Thinking Holistically In Skills
‘Studies have shown that 75% of long-term success depends on soft skills and 25% depends on technical/hard skills. For effective performance in the workplace, companies need their employees to have not only field knowledge, technical and analytical skills, but also the skills to deal with the external world of clients, customers, vendors, the government and public; and to work in a collaborative manner with their colleagues’. – Training Magazine Middle East, Jan 18th 2015.
This is a quote from an article discussing #SoftSkills in the modern world. The article discusses the fact that students come out of school, college or university ‘preloaded’ with the technical skills required but many cannot operate effectively in the marketplace as they do not have the interpersonal skills (or soft skills) required. Indeed the article suggests that people in leadership positions mainly gain these roles due to the exceptional soft skills that they have/display.
This is what I have known for the last 10 years as highlighted in a previous blog.
Reading this article resonated with me further in education. I believe that some senior leaders in educational settings do not have these interpersonal skills required to be effective in their positions. Is this the reason why many schools are ineffective or ‘require special measures’ as judged by Ofsted?
Just to digress and discuss Ofsted for one moment; The Secret Teacher (See link) – http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/jan/24/secret-teacher-ofsted-rules?CMP=share_btn_tw – wrote this brilliant article asking for the real set of rules that Ofsted go by. This column in the Guardian brings into question the approach Ofsted use when inspecting. I can say from bitter experience that Ofsted do seem to inspect with pre-conceived ideas or a hypothesis based on data and desk research. I personally do not believe this is an appropriate approach as it breeds pressure and makes them unable to be the supportive organisation they should be.
However back to soft skills; If educational establishments have to continue to meet the ever changing needs of government policy and our friends at Ofsted then strong leadership is required with the exceptional use of soft skills. I have seen many examples of great leadership throughout my career and also some examples of really poor leadership. Firstly a leader must have a great vision and a strong ‘team’ strategy to meet that vision. In doing this they will have to have a strong ‘character’ and show true ‘resilience’ and not to be wavered from that vision when things do not go so well. Lets face it that is bound to happen at some stage or other. The vision of course has to have the learners that they serve at the center of that vision.
I have mentioned two of the government buzz words of the moment which are the soft skills known as character and resilience. I also mentioned the word ‘team’ and in this situation I mean to be the leader of a staff team of highly trained professionals. @headguruteacher has recently written a great blog called ‘Developing our in-house system for improving teaching’ (See link) – http://t.co/F0O43cJbpB – showing one way how he is leading a strategy which involves leading his staff in a teamwork approach to continually improve learning in his school.
Not only is he displaying excellent soft skills himself but is also promoting excellent teamwork soft skills from within his team. This could not be delivered without the SLT and larger staff group also showing good ‘communication’ skills while working with each other and developing community trust. From what I have read in this article I believe that this would be the type of educational organisation that teachers would want to work in. Unfortunately though some members of the teaching profession do not work in an organisation where trust and team work are high on the agenda.
This is what I do know; Some educational colleagues are fighting hard on a daily basis being constantly monitored for one slip – a bad lesson or a bad data trawl perhaps? Then and very quickly being put onto the dreaded ‘support plan’! This therefore shows an ineffective leader without the ability to build teams in an educational setting. The support plan has to be a very last option and not a stick that is used to beat people with as a quick fix. It also does not promote a good team spirit for long term success.
I would therefore appeal to all leaders in schools and colleges to spend some time developing soft skills just like the ones @headguruteacher is arguably using effectively in his strategy. If that was a focus then maybe all schools would continue have better and better examination results? Colleagues would also be working together in a collegiate way and enjoying their jobs and then moreover ‘long term success‘ would be achieved for all students?