In today's demanding workplace, employees are expected to handle more tasks, respond faster to requests, and deliver higher-quality results. And if you're a leader, your organisation will expect you to deftly manage both your own emotions and those of your teammates and juniors. Technical skills alone are not enough. At any level, good mental and emotional skills make you indispensable.
These skills can always be acquired, but most people don't realise their importance, and hence don't invest in acquiring them. However, once you see how essential these skills are, you will find them easy to learn and apply!
The concept of mental, social, and emotional skills
The ability to manage both yourself and others is now recognised as an essential skill for any manager or leader. It's not only about possessing intellectual abilities. It's about:
- having self-awareness,
- knowing how much stress you can take,
- how well you communicate with other people,
- seeing things from another's perspective,
- handling conflict well,
- listening effectively,
- building an ability to assess situations accurately,
- learning from experience, and
- recognising when other people are stressed or upset.
All these are components of emotional intelligence (EQ). High emotional intelligence helps you develop the social and emotional skills needed to be a great leader and employee. People who are good at dealing with these problems are less likely to become high-profile success stories—and more likely to be promoted.
Being mentally flexible and creative and having good problem-solving abilities are valuable assets. But it doesn't stop there. A flexible mind will help identify opportunities when they arise. A creative approach can lead to new business solutions. And a resilient mind that helps you think on your feet and bounce back from mistakes is vital in every industry. Asking yourself challenging questions before any given situation can help keep your head clear during times of stress. Additionally, knowing how to be respectful of others is essential for successful working relationships with your employees or peers.
Our daily interactions at work can influence our emotions, and therefore, our performance. As a leader, you need to have strong social skills both to improve your own performance, as well as that of your team. You also need to be aware of how you affect others when interacting with them socially. This is critical if you want to maximise the benefits and mitigate the risks in any social situation.
Emotional skills are about self-awareness, reading other people's moods accurately, and knowing how best to respond in any given situation. It also comes down to your ability to manage your own emotions so they don't get in the way of effective decision-making.
Having emotional skills helps make you more approachable, and also makes it easier for others to know how they can help you succeed. By developing these skills, leaders can better communicate with staff members, improve their management strategies, resolve conflict, and become stronger leaders overall.
The future of work is flexible - you have to adapt
According to the 2021 India Skills Report, technical skills are not sufficient as we move forward. Mental, social, and emotional skills have become more vital than ever. This is partly due to advances in technology that enable you to do more with less. However, it's also down to a general change in how we work: flexible working patterns and remote working have become commonplace. You need to show your boss (or future boss) that there's an added value for them in keeping you onboard.
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So, how can you develop your mental, social and emotional skills?
There are many ways to develop these important skills. For example, reading self-help books on leadership may help you learn how to mentor younger employees or become a stronger leader. You can also learn more about leadership by taking college courses on business management or attending professional conferences related to management or business. Learning about business is just one way you can sharpen your 'people smarts'.
While there's no clear-cut recipe for developing these skills, start by improving the way you communicate. If someone isn't happy with their job performance, but they're afraid of talking about it with their boss, don't just tell them they need to do better—ask them how they'd suggest doing so. That small effort could mean all the difference in winning over an employee.
Benefits of honing these skills
Mental, social, and emotional skills have a great impact on helping you manage stress, anxiety and happiness in the workplace. After all, it is critical to create a safe psychological space for your employees. Having a high EQ is vital for leading a team effectively. It's difficult to imagine Steve Jobs or Bill Gates without their self-belief. With high EQ levels, they could confidently talk up their ideas at board meetings even if others thought they were bonkers at first!
Impact on self-efficiency
These skills aren't merely soft or intangible benefits. They have a quantifiable impact on our productivity at work. A recent Employability Survey by Aspiring Minds showed that in 2019 an alarming 80% of engineering graduates were unfit to be employed. The reason? They lacked sufficient soft skills. Self-efficacy is essentially how much confidence someone has in his or her own ability to accomplish something. As humans, we're all familiar with being effective at doing something—we tend to feel more positive about ourselves as a result.
Impact on organisational commitment and performance
Organisations that invest in social, mental, and emotional skill development for their employees also see improvements in mood, engagement, loyalty, and productivity. All of these factors lead to better organisational performance and give your people a stronger reason to return to work every day.