While many assume leadership (and other soft skills) are innate qualities, research shows that they can be developed through iterative practice and skilled coaching.
Unlike hard skills, there is no easy measure of successful soft skills. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be mastered through diligent practice, intentional repetition, and the confidence that only comes from trying and failing (and then trying again).
The Growing Need for Soft Skills in the Workplace
In today’s evolving workplace, strong interpersonal skills are paramount. In an age of automation, those qualities that make us our most human are the exact characteristics that employers look to find and foster in their teams. As noted in “Closing the Technology Leadership Gap,” a report by business and technology consulting firm West Monroe Partners, studies found that 98 percent of HR professionals claim that soft skills are important in landing a position, and 67 percent have withheld a job offer from an otherwise qualified candidate because they lacked those interpersonal attributes.
The need for enhanced diversity and inclusion in our workplaces also emphasizes the significance of adept human skills. Leadership qualities such as empathy, collaboration, and a desire to actively listen and learn lead to more inclusive, equitable workplaces where all employees feel respected and valued. Training in these areas, including recognizing implicit bias and unconscious bias, can have the highest return for risk management, but are the trickiest to execute with sensitivity and effectiveness.
A Better Solution for Developing Soft Skills
Virtual reality has long been used across industries to train for job-related technical skills (such as in flight simulations, military practices, manufacturing scenarios, and medical advances). But more recently these highly realistic and relatable simulations have been employed to teach critical interpersonal skills.
Why are virtual reality simulations the ideal way to practice and master soft skills? The advantages of this type of training (vs. in-person role play, traditional textbook, or online learning) include numerous benefits for both employers and their teams:
High-stakes situations in a low-risk environment. Learners are able to practice challenging real-world conversations with a lifelike avatar without the fear of awkwardness, biased behavior, or potential repercussions that come from an in-person encounter. Research backs this up: People are more likely to fully buy into a scenario when role-playing with an avatar as opposed to another person.
Authentic situations and scenarios. Simulations are especially impactful because they are designed to effectively mirror the learner’s work setting through relevant context and recognizable surroundings. As a result, performance is enhanced not only during the simulation, but also in the workplace.
Distraction-free engagement. Virtual reality simulations offer an immersive experience that allows learners to be completely present and deeply absorb the training they receive.
Ease of implementation. Advancements in virtual reality means trainings can be conducted anywhere on a user’s laptop without the requirement of a headset or other technology.
Incremental and intentional improvement. Learners can return to simulations again and again to practice their skills, receiving meaningful, actionable feedback from the virtual reality training platform.
Cost effectiveness. Rather than role play or textbook learning, virtual reality simulations offer a repeatable, reusable training solution that can be implemented at the learner’s discretion.
Mastering Soft Skills with Mursion Simulations
Mursion’s experiential VR platform was designed to help professionals become their most empowered and productive. Through real-time simulations that call for full presence in the moment, learners are able to improve on the spot. Powered by a blend of artificial intelligence and live human interaction, Mursion’s virtual reality simulations engage both the emotional and cognitive faculties for truly transformative learning.
We work with a variety of organizations across verticals to place leaders in authentic environments that mimic the most challenging interpersonal situations they may face on the job. By providing live, interactive simulations supported by trained simulation specialists in realistic settings, we support leaders as they practice and master competencies, such as how to coach to improve employee performance, provide candid and empathetic feedback, and create inclusive interactions on their teams. Our leadership training programs can be tailored to address company ongoing challenges and overall goals.
A New Era of Workplace Learning
Today’s unique workplace is continuously in flux, sparking the need for ongoing learning. Managers and their teams alike find themselves in unchartered territory that is best traversed when everyone in an organization feels equal, recognized, and accepted. The best way to do this is to regularly assess, evaluate, listen, and, yes, learn.
In the end, the true measure of soft skills is the most important component to personal and professional growth — your ability to relate to, connect with, and inspire those around you.
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