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In Skills Arena, the Soft Sharpens the Hard!

 

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said, Peter Drucker

Hard skills are the core skills required for any job or role. Usually hard skills are acquired through academic or formal studies. Hard skills are the minimum conditions required by employers for any job (although it does not guarantee that you will keep your job for long). On the other hand, soft skills are responsible for every art of dealing with people (the most difficult term of the job equation). There is no black and white in soft skills. Harmonizing with humans do not have one unified formula. It is highly dependent upon context. This post tries to highlight soft skills required in day-to-day job.

It is worth noting that soft skills are responsible for pushing you up the career ladder. Relying solely upon hard skills will make you stay significant time at the lower part of the career ladder!

Definition of Soft Skills

Sometimes they are called People Skills or Relationship Skills. Recently they are linked to Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in contrast with “hard skills” that are linked to IQ. Unfortunately, soft skills are mostly ignored during early academic education. It could be better to combine soft skills within hard skills core courses during the education process.

Classification of Soft Skills

Soft skills are scarce in the professional business and are very hard to prove. There are a lot of soft skills but they can broadly be classified into Relationship Skills, Personal Skills, and Business Skills.

Relationship Skills cover communication, negotiation, Leadership and Politics. None is working in sales or relationship management should lack this category of skills. Refer to previous posts on  communication and Negotiation  where they were touched.

Leadership is required even if you are not in a managerial position. As mentioned by Peter Drucker: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”. Leadership will come through establishing trust, building a common vision, building  partnerships, and bringing clarity to risky matters.

Politics is not always bad as wrongly perceived. I searched for an interesting definition of “politics” in Wikipedia as a process of reaching a decision among a group through employing authority, power, and influence. Politics require all previous skills at once to be successful. Politics should follow principles to be governed.

Personal Skills cover transparency, Passion, and fast context-switching.

Transparency is to share your ideas with others and consider others concerns.

Passion is the most important personal skills ever. Nothing great is accomplished without passion (Georg Friedrich). It is your inner feeling of loving doing something. The same things can be performed with or without passion. But there are huge difference with those performed with passion. Combine both persistence and passion to hunt and achieve your goals.

Context-switching is the art of simulating multi-tasking. It is one of key factors for high productivity. Your ability to switch from one subject to another with high speed will determine your capability of time management and multi-track management.

Business Skills cover business knowledge, innovation, practicality, and vision.

Business Knowledge is highly required to know the other side, i.e., your customer or business partner. Our added value as consultants will be clear once we talk same language of our customers. Domain knowledge comprises knowing your customer, knowing customer business, and understanding your company.

Innovation distinguishes you from the masses. Innovation appears in everything: in ideas, in presenting those ideas, in communication with customers, in the process of delivering your services, etc.

Practicality is a major ingredient of success. For example, if you are an IT architect, without practicality, you will be a theorist and you will not achieve your goals. Practicality leads to finding the best way of achieving your goals and executing your strategy in real world with all existing obstacles ad challenges.

Vision distinguishes leaders from followers. A vision requires a target destination along partners with a clear road map. If you miss one of those, vision will lack clarity.

This was a brief trial to scratch the surface of the subject.

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3 Comments + Add Comment

  • Agree with, it is similar to the 7th habit : sharpen the saw.

    We need to sharpen our skills all the way in life.

     
    • Interesting! I should read this book. Educational systems should mix both skill sets. Although there are still individual human character factors but in general soft skills can be improved through practicing.

      thanks for sharing thoughts

       
  • very nice article!

     

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