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Most of us want to play hardball at work, if only to seem capable, commanding and in control. Yet soft skills matter too. These are the attributes that make us good with other people.

At SPE Resourcing, we base an executive search on tact and empathy, as well as the more empirical CV material. But when soft skills are tough to prove, how can you recognise those attributes in yourself when a headhunter comes calling?

Take a look at the abilities that will mark you out as one to watch…

A knack for recognising talent

Whatever line of work you’re in, the principle remains the same: your team will have a pick ’n’ mix set of skills. Middle managers should get to know their colleagues and learn what they excel at. Then it’s a matter of arranging the pieces so they fit into a well-oiled service machine.

But remember that staff need to be happy too. We look for candidates who’re able to help people work to their best advantage, yet stay open to requests for a different responsibility if that person is bored or limited.

Listening and empathising

The fact remains that complaints, grievances or suggestions can’t be ignored. Why? Because they take the steam out of any impetus behind great feedback. If someone feels that they aren’t being heard, they won’t see any point in relaying glowing customer comments, or times in which a process has really improved their day.

Likewise, real life must be taken into account. Employees may suffer from an illness (physical or mental), bereavement, financial pains or a relationship crisis. Executive headhunters love to see someone who responds sensitively to these issues. If a recruiter ever gets in touch, think back to a moment where you showed empathy in your management style. Then talk about it.

Keeping the pressure cooker low

Stress will sink any team during a busy or difficult shift. Middle managers should be bastions of calm – a lifeboat that anyone can turn to when they are struggling with something, to escape the turbulent waters.

As such, patience is essential. So is the ability to find a solution, even if it involves deviating from the initial plan, that diffuses at least some of the tension. Usually, we can pin this on organisation in the given environment. Knowing stock levels, system procedures, and emergency contacts is useful for any middle manager who’s dealing with something tricky.

An executive search has to uncover the state of a candidate’s emotional virtue; otherwise, the culture in the business we are hiring for may be totally wrong. The best middle managers translate big, top-down ideas in a way that feels human.

If we call, rest assured, you have the chance to change your life. Find out how we help candidates like you on our dedicated page.