Soft skills refer to the behavioral attributes that determine how well you interact with others. Your soft skills demonstrate how adequately you can work in a team. These skills represent the individual traits of a person and his capacity to lead and influence others. Soft skills are essentially people skills that facilitate working cordially with everyone.
Soft skills are given priority for leadership positions as leaders have to manage large teams. Senior employee’s potential to inspire teams during crisis speaks volumes about their leadership quality. Soft skills are often associated with emotional intelligence that enhances relationships in a professional setup. A person with high social skills is well-liked by colleagues and teammates.
As you grow in a career, you have to deal with a large number of people. The soft skills become imperative to manage diverse teams. Soft skills are required for everyone regardless of positions, be it an engineer, architect, or manager. While Software Architect is a specialized position providing technical leadership to the engineering team, the role to guide the team with technical decisions demands a good deal of soft skills.
The software architect is a very broad term as Software Architect could be an Enterprise Architect, Application Architect, Cloud Architect, or Technical Architect. The designation varies from one organization to another.
Software Architects are the captain of the Software Engineering team as they are responsible for the rise or fall of software products. They are accountable for giving design and architecture directions to the products, consistent with the technological and industry trends.
Software architecture is a strategic role that builds the core foundation of businesses. In addition to core technical skills, a software architect must possess soft skills to run the product engineering team smoothly. Following soft skills are required for the software architects to function effectively:
The architect acts as an intermediary between the engineering team and other business departments. Developers don’t have an idea what’s going on with Product Management, Marketing, Sales, and Customer requirements. Architect bridges the communication gap and updates the developers on what’s latest with the organization.
While architects are tech-savvy and get their hands dirty with code as required, they can’t lose track of where the industry is going and where the technology is going. Being visionary is about deciding the long-term implications of product functionality. The decision that appears to be right today, may not make sense a few years down the line. Having long terms solutions concerning product design and architecture helps in scaling the product in the future.
Software Architects should be pragmatic in approach while selecting the relevant libraries and tools for software products. They must not have personal preferences on technology or frameworks. They have to address various trade-offs regarding usability, maintainability, and scalability of the products. Thus, personal inclinations may not be congruent with the health of the product.
Every decision that a software architect makes, will be challenged by the stakeholders. Negotiation is critical for Software Architects to sell their vision and ideas to several teams. Regardless of how bright Software Architect you are, if you can’t sell your vision to the business, you will never get to implement and work on those ideas.
Interpersonal skills refer to patience, flexibility, and teamwork to motivate and influence the product teams. As an architect, you may have the authority to make a high-level decision, but it is the engineering team that develops and ships the product. Hence, interpersonal skills to resolve conflicts as they arise helps resolve the blocker in the team.
Technology is changing at lightning speed. The performance, scalability, and maintainability of software products are not good-to-have but must-have requirements in current times. A software architect needs to be adaptable as technology and market trends require in the course of product development.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your own emotion and understand that of others. The technical decisions should not be taken individually in haste. The possibility of technical decisions leaving a positive impact is higher when decisions are made collectively by the team. Product development should be open to ideas across teams.
I have worked with several architects in my Software Development career. A few architects were hardcore technical and reticent, while others were outspoken and would express themselves easily.
The architects who expressed openly in team meetings and product presentations were able to convince the upper management about technical trade-offs. They would obtain subscriptions for proprietary software, get training available for the team, and bring about the cultural change of learning & growth. Therefore, expressive architects had the upper hand in getting their vision adopted in the product compared to the reticent counterparts.
The soft skills are hard to acquire as compared to the technical skills. Soft skills are not emphasized in the traditional education system. Focus is given to the technical skills to increase employability. It is hardly realized that soft skills are equally important, if not more, to excel in today’s flexible work environment. Your ability to express yourself and inspire others goes a long way in establishing your identity as a leader.
Today’s workplaces are diverse with employees coming from different backgrounds. It is increasingly important to be aware of cultural nuances. Emotional intelligence and soft skills play a vital role to empathize, lead, and motivate others to create a well-functioning team. These skills create an environment for productivity and performance.
Customer interaction and workplace communication are expected to be impeccable as they hold strategic importance as per the objective and mission of the organization. The soft skills are compelling in large part for the long terms success of the Software Products, as Software Architect’s role demands efficiency in collaboration, cooperation, conflict resolution, and leading the engineering team !!