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BW Businessworld

Soft Leadership Is The Future Leadership

The days of command-and-control leadership don’t work anymore. What works presently is trust-and-track leadership

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“Soft leadership can be defined as the process of setting goals; influencing people through persuasion; building strong teams; negotiating them with a win-win attitude; respecting their failures; handholding them; motivating them constantly; aligning their energies and efforts; recognizing and appreciating their contribution in accomplishing organizational goals and objectives with an emphasis on soft skills. It is based on the right mindset, skill set, and toolset.”-- Professor M.S.Rao, Father of “Soft Leadership”

What Is Soft Leadership?
I have coined a new concept ‘Soft leadership’ to overcome the drawbacks in the existing leadership styles. I have authored a book on this concept titled, Soft Leadership: Make Others Feel More Important and published several research papers and articles for international journals and magazines. It is getting overwhelming response globally. One of the award-winning research papers titled, Soft leadership: a new direction to leadership, is amongst the most frequently downloaded in Industrial and Commercial Training, Emerald UK. Here is the description about soft leadership.

Various leadership researchers, experts, educators, writers, consultants, and practitioners in the leadership domain have pioneered specific styles and types of leadership. As a result, we have various styles and types in leadership, thus enriching the leadership domain. Similarly, soft leadership is another new concept to add value to the leadership literature.

Soft leadership is leading through soft skills and people skills. It blends soft skills, hard skills and leadership. It emphasizes on the significance of precious human resources. It helps in managing the emotions, egos, and feelings of the people successfully. It focuses on the personality, attitude, and behaviour of the people, and calls for making others feel more important. It is an integrative, participative, relationship, and behavioural leadership model adopting tools such as persuasion, negotiation, recognition, appreciation, motivation, and collaboration to accomplish the tasks effectively.

Soft leadership is not a submissive leadership or a lame duck leadership but an assertive leadership where soft leaders adopt pleasing and polite communication to execute the tasks. It is a blend of courageous leadership, thought leadership, servant leadership and inspirational leadership. Succinctly, soft leadership can be defined as the process of setting goals; influencing people through persuasion; building strong teams; negotiating them with a win-win attitude; respecting their failures; hand-holding them; motivating them constantly; aligning their energies and efforts; recognizing and appreciating their contribution in accomplishing organizational goals and objectives with an emphasis on soft skills. It is based on the right mindset, skill set, and toolset.

Professor M.S.Rao’s 11 C’s And Soft Leadership
Leadership basically depends on three aspects — how you communicate with others; how you make decisions; and how you take action. When you can execute these three activities effectively you become a successful leader. However, to evolve as a soft leader, you must communicate with an emphasis on soft skills; make decisions by blending your head, heart and gut; and take action keeping the ground realities and goals in your view without compromising task-orientation. There are 11 Cs that constitute soft leadership. They are: character, charisma, conscience, conviction, courage, communication, compassion, commitment, consistency, consideration and contribution. It is highly challenging for people to cultivate these 11 characteristics. However, if people possess more than 6 traits they get into the fold of soft leadership. Connecting 11 C’s that collectively constitute soft leadership.

Soft Leadership Is The Future Leadership
Stephen R. Covey once remarked, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Globally the philosophy of ‘employees first, customers second, and shareholders third’ is gaining momentum. Keeping this philosophy in view, the global organizations need leaders who can navigate their organizations through a network of relationships. Presently the days of positional power work less and referent power works more. Above all, the global organizations must be networked, flat, flexible and diverse. Hence, soft leadership can work for any company and country regardless of its size or budget.

The days of command-and-control leadership don’t work anymore. What works presently is trust-and-track leadership. As the world is changing rapidly, the knowledge, skills and abilities essential for employees are changing rapidly. The employees are reinventing themselves to keep pace with the rapid changes in technologies. Additionally, they are more focused on their careers, and are ready to sacrifice their families to fast-track their careers. Their expectations and aspirations are rising. Hence, leaders at the top must reinvent with their leadership styles, tools and techniques to lead their employees in this digital age. To conclude, exploring soft leadership helps greatly for the leaders to satisfy all stakeholders to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Professor M.S. Rao

Professor M.S.Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of ‘Soft Leadership’ and Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with 35 years of experience and the author of 30 books including the award-winning ‘21 Success Sutras for CEOs’

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