President Dawn Dekle counseled students on how to develop “soft” people skills while still in university.
Madame President was the guest speaker at the Emerging Leaders Academy #4 held on December 1. She said, “If you do not develop your soft skills, you will be limited in what you can do with your career in your life. If you develop soft skills, you have an unlimited potential for income, and how you go up the corporate ladder.”
President Dekle began the interactive session by asking participants to vote on whether leaders are born or made.
“It is both. All of us are born with some capacity for it, but then you have to develop it. There is something in you, the way your nervous system is set up. There is a trait in you. Then, you are here because you also realize that it is a skill that you can develop. Of course, you are here because you are trying to learn how to be made leaders.”
The president gave a metaphor of how effective leadership is cultivated, similar to the effort an Olympic athlete puts in to win a gold medal.
“There has to be something in you when you are born. There has to be something in the way your muscles work, in the way your discipline is. There has to be something in you that you are born with. And then you have the right coaches, then you can win a gold medal.”
Speaking about interpersonal relationships in the workplace, she said whenever someone is fired for a job, 99 percent of the time, it is because of poor people skills.
“You are going to be hired in your first job because of your hard skills, but then, as you go into that job after a year or two, you could be fired for lack of soft skills. No one is ever fired for lack of hard skills.”
She explained hard skills as the technical know-how acquired in various disciplines.
“Your knowledge, your certifications, your degrees from AUN--this is why you are here; to get this knowledge that will get you that first job.”
She emphasized that soft skills are made up of how people act and manage teams and mentor others and their subordinates.
“But what is going to get you promoted are the soft skills and these are positive attitudes, leadership skills, dress for success, communication skills, overcoming the fear of doubt--all of these things are to help you climb the corporate ladder and also start your own companies.”
President Dekle’s presentation also touched on an array of emotional intelligence skills such as reading emotions constructively, managing a difficult boss, colleague, or subordinate, and developing social navigational capital to help students develop personal effectiveness.
On the sidelines of the seminar, students spoke enthusiastically about the experience. “We have had sessions that were interactive, but this is the most interactive,” said a third-year Software Engineering major, Clement Nyior. “Most importantly, she presented a topic that interests me, ‘How to read people’s emotion.’ That is something I have always wanted to know.”
Another third-year student who majors in Computer Science, Kishi Olubote, said the interactive and engaging presentation was animated with a video that President Dekle used to illustrate her points.
This Emerging Leaders Academy #4 is the final of its series this session and is just one of a number of workshops on campus to help prepare students take on leadership responsibilities for a fulfilling life after school.
Reported by Omorogbe Omorogiuwa