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A recent blog by the Founder of Studer Group, Quint Studer, questioned if it really is a “soft skill,” then why is it so hard? based on his work with hundreds of healthcare organizations over the years. Studer states:

It has not been unusual to hear senior leaders characterize the ability to maximize employee engagement and patient perception of care (satisfaction) as a “soft skill.” We’ve also found that most of the time these comments come from leaders of organizations that are not achieving the results in the people areas that they would like to achieve.

In healthcare these “people areas” include employee engagement, support services, and patient satisfaction; in education we substitute parent (and student) satisfaction for patient satisfaction. Studer connects the skills in the people area to an organization’s financial performance (see Harvard Business Review), patient safety (see UAB), and improved clinical care (see Results that Last). Studer adds:

I’m talking about the ability to achieve and sustain high reliable performance, to align human capital to the organizational vision, to create consistency throughout the organization, to implement best practices, to reduce cost to the needed 20 percent less in less than 10 years, and to ensure that leaders and all staff have the skills needed for today’s and tomorrow’s success.

Studer goes on to question, “if these skills really were soft, wouldn’t healthcare performance be better?” At Studer Education our leaders and educators have worked with hundreds of teachers, educational leaders, and organizations over the years and it has not been uncommon for us to hear reasons for poor student achievement that include high minority populations, high percentage of poverty, large class sizes, teacher’s years of experience, number of student absences, or lack of money/resources. However, from research we know that:

All children can learn (regardless of race and socioeconomic status) [parent satisfaction]

Teacher actions (more than any other variable) influence student learning [employee engagement]

 Leaders can coach and support teachers to become great [support services]

To achieve excellence in student achievement (the “hard” results), educational leaders must focus on skills that improve parent satisfaction, employee engagement, and support services. Consider the following district results:

Studer Education works with school boards, leaders, and employees to apply the evidence-based continuous improvement flywheel and process and the principles from How to Lead Teachers to Become Great in their districts as they aim for excellence in every district department and in every school as they strive to improve teacher performance and student achievement.

Ultimately, the principles, processes, and skills represented in the Flywheel and How to Lead are aimed at helping students achieve outstanding results—which is, after all, the goal of everyone involved.



Pilcher, J., and Largue, R. 2009. How to Lead Teachers to Become Great. Gulf Breeze, FL: Fire Starter Publishing.

Studer, Q. 2012. If It Really Is a “Soft” Skill Then Why Is It So Hard? Insights from Studer Group.

Studer, Q. 2008. Results that Last: Hardwiring Behaviors that Will Take Your Company to the Top. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we teach teachers and leaders how to get the best student learning results and create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com to learn more about Studer Education Teacher Development Institutes (TDIs), Leader Development Institutes (LDIs), and Evidence-Based Leadership.