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'Soft Skills' is a phrase often used by employers today. People love jumping to conclusions about others and form an opinion about them in a meeting that lasts barely a few minutes, especially in a business environment. The first impression of a professional has a lot to do with the personality and soft skills required. Times have changed, the technical or hard skills needed earlier are not enough to make an impression. A business runs on personal communication as much as it runs on money. So the question arises “are B schools doing enough to develop the personality and soft skills of the MBA graduates”?. The answer to this question is far from straight forward as many factors play a role in building the personality and soft skills of an individual.
Soft Skills - The Present demand
Soft skills is a term used to describe those skills that are not technical or job-related. Soft or interpersonal skills are those desirable qualities that do not depend on aquired knowledge, they could include common sense, the ability to deal with people and an optimistic nd flexible personality. Expertise related to the job or Hard skills are definitely essential in any profession or business. However in the last couple of decades, there has been a shift in terms of the skills demanded by employers. it is seen, understanding has grown regarding soft skills and how they could be the gamechanger, determining the levels of success.
Even though all B schools claim to have a curriculum and teaching methods that promote the personality development of future MBA graduates, is that enough? In this time and age, how can an MBA graduate be industry ready? Soft skills are what is needed and demanded by the employers of today’s business world. Leadership and soft skills are not something that can be learned through theories or books, but a constant effort has to be made by the student towards building these skills. One of the most compelling reasons students join an MBA program is to learn leadership skills that they otherwise cannot obtain as quickly.
Also read: What are the criteria for an MBA placement?
Important soft skills for MBA
- Social networking skills: Not all of us work well in a team and are social butterflies. Some of us struggle to make small talk with others, but it is undeniably an irreplaceable skill. Sometimes who you know matters more than what you know.
- Leadership skills: Everybody has different interests skills, some are good leaders and some are not, but everybody should have leadership skills. Leadership skills help people make good decisions in their lives.
- Communication skills: Good written and speaking skills are vital for any employee, to convey properly what needs to be done and how.
- Innovative skills: Businesses, even successful ones begin with a great idea. Creative and innovative skills are always useful, but not all can cope with the “out-of-the-box” attitude.
- Personality: This is what plays a great role in creating a good first impression. A positive outlook and how one carries oneself is the foundation of creating an impactful first impression.
- Interpersonal skills: How one works and interacts with a team or even as a leader is what constitutes interpersonal skills.
- Risk-taking and planning: “No gain without pain” is something we all have heard, but what it means is to take the risk to learn something new and profitable.
- Time and systems management: Something is most impactful when done at the right time, this is what one learns through time management and proper planning out the process.
Though theoretical knowledge and skills are important, B schools do not focus on soft skill development or the overall personality development of MBA graduates. These B schools get away with this as soft skills are something that do not have any proper evaluation and so the MBA student is screened only for the theoretical knowledge one must have to be a good professional, the soft skills being something the MBA graduate should build on his/her own, which cannot be possible without any kind of guidance or support.
How To Develop Your Soft Skills
You can develop your soft skills by-
- Working with a mentor, which will allow you to get valuable feedback and discuss how to improve further.
- Joining groups and practising public speaking to help with confidence and verbal style.
- Being positive and optimistic.
You need to realise that most soft skills are aligned with confidence and enthusiasm, so minimising anxiety and insecurity will greatly help you improve your soft skills.
Why should B schools focus on soft skills?
Many would think that the management world is very to the point and there is no scope or need for one to have soft skills or empathy. But that is far from the truth, in every environment solutions are driven by a personal problem. It is many times said, “need is the mother of all inventions”, for which the business or company gives a solution or product. The environment of a workplace directly affects the productivity of each working there, and it has been proved that people work better in a happy and easy-going environment having open communications between its employees.
Professional skills like being punctual and organised, delivering on deadlines, working on and giving a presentation, all these are skills that will be imbibed by the MBA graduate through the course curriculum, and something the B school focusses on. But the foundation of these skills is built on the soft skills and the empathy a person has. B schools do not focus enough on building soft skills in their students and simply are a factory that is churning out the same product. What makes us all different are our experiences, values and ideas, and it is something that makes us unique, but the systematic approach taken to break the individuality down in students is not just done by B schools, but is the result of the whole education system of India. All of us should not be taught the same skills in the same way. All of this makes it clear that the MBA curriculum is letting down the MBA graduates.
For the overall personality development of the student, another aspect that B schools should focus on are the various styles of learning. All of us are different kinds of learner’s and have 9 different kinds of intelligence, be it kinetic, audio-visual, logical etc. B schools need to pay attention to the delivery and content of their management curriculum to make sure all kinds of learners are accommodated and the learning is at it’s maximum.
This simple quote by Maya Angelou summarizes beautifully the importance of having a good personality and empathy,
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”