There is a certain level of understandable frustration that comes with watching from the sidelines as your peers and colleagues surpass you professionally. When you’re overlooked for a promotion, or routinely feel as though less-qualified candidates succeed in landing the positions you desire, it’s time to take a hard look at your soft skills.
Soft skills include your ability to communicate, present, collaborate and think critically.Companies prioritize employees with advanced soft skills, and that’s not a trend I see changing anytime soon. Nor do I think it’s something that should change. Here’s why:
GREAT COMMUNICATORS ARE CHANGE AGENTS
It’s not enough to simply possess information and expertise. To be successful, companies need employees who are capable of sharing expertise.Say you are a Googler (a Google employee) and you have a great idea based on data and information - an idea you know will bring huge revenue to the company.
No matter how great, all ideas need buy-in. Companies have limited resources, and the person or team best able to sell their idea will reap the reward of investment. People with strong soft skills are better at communicating complex information in an understandable way; they’re better storytellers. They’re the people who can persuade others to see their point of view and bring them onside.
COLLABORATORS GET SH*T DONE
Great leadership depends on one’s ability to see the bigger picture, to think through problems end-to-end, and to work with other teams and management to build bridges. A person with the ability to empathize will work better with others and be able to adapt to the complex needs of their team members, bringing out the best in them.
Justin Trudeau did not appoint Chrystia Freeland to the post for Foreign Affairs Minister solely based on her technical skills. I’m sure there were other equally qualified candidates in his cabinet. Minister Freeland was appointed because she had some of the technical skills required. More importantly she has exceptional NEGOTIATION and COMMUNICATION skills, and those skills, above all else are why she would have been chosen over her colleagues with similar technical skills for the appointment.
A person who knows the laws, the leaders, the relevant history that lacks the ability to listen, to negotiate and empathize would have failed to negotiate a NAFTA agreement in these turbulent times.
SUPERIOR SALESPEOPLE HAVE SUPERIOR SOFT SKILLS
Companies who depend on sales to survive rely on the quality of their sales-force. Gone are the days when salespeople were selling something. Today the role of salespeople is far more complex; salespeople are selling themselves. No longer in the product business, salespeople are in the confidence business. Customers and clients invest their confidence in people they deem trustworthy, people who demonstrate passion, commitment and understanding above all else. People with whom they can talk openly and truly connect, and people who can solve problems as they arise. In order for salespeople to qualify for this kind of relationship, soft skills are critical.
The value of soft skills is not to be underestimated. Before you invest in enhancing already strong technical skills, focus on your ability to communicate, to collaborate and to think critically. Your technical skills only permit you to be a participant in the game. If you truly want to win, it’s going to take much, much more in the way of soft skill development and enhancement.
Amy Davies is a career advancement expert, insights executive and corporate trainer. She is the author of A Spark In The Dark: Illuminating Your Path To A Brilliant Career In A Reorg World. Amy lives in Toronto, Canada with her children and partner. To speak or set up a free 30-minute career consultation click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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