What Skill Sets Equal Success Today?
The new year is a great time to take a personal inventory and confirm you have the proper skills for success in the coming 12 months. With that in mind, we’re pleased to share a few thoughts on what soft skills are a MUST for every executive’s professional arsenal.
- Communication. Number one on our list, and for good reason. Including the ability to write, speak, and listen, an ability to articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively means you’ll be able to sell your ideas, understand others’ needs, build strong relationships, and resolve conflicts.
- Problem-solving. A close second is the ability to analyze issues, make sound decisions and overcome problems.
- Teamwork. The days of the lone wolf are gone, and regardless of the industry or discipline, you’d better be able to work effectively and respectfully with coworkers and clients alike while actively looking for ways to bring out the best in others.
- Initiative. Proactively handling situations and finding answers to questions without direction shows others that you are a leader who takes responsibility for your actions.
- Analytical. Be sure you’re up-to-speed in your abilities to assess any situation, ask crucial questions, identify problems, consider possible solutions, plan a course of action, and make informed decisions.
- Work ethic. Demonstrating personal accountability for your actions and work habits is the true hallmark of a professional. It appears in subtle ways, including showing up on time (or early), learning from your mistakes, showing integrity, working productively with others, and understanding the impact of your non-verbal communication.
- Leadership. Coaching and developing others is HUGE, as are the empathic skills utilized to motivate, organize, prioritize, and delegate tasks.
- Detail oriented. Completing tasks thoroughly and accurately should be a no-brainer, but it’s scary how many people skip this one. Double-check your work, then have someone else review important items in case you missed something.
- Digital technology. Don’t plan to use your age as an excuse for not being current on at least the basic business software out there (Microsoft suite, for example), because you’ll immediately label yourself “dinosaur.” Job-specific software will typically have training associated with it, but an ability to learn new technical tools quickly is universally critical. And yes…you’d better know how to type.
- Adaptability. Let’s face it; things are topsy-turvy these days, and one never knows which end is up from one day to the next. This makes flexibility and an ability to roll with the punches critical to your success, regardless of your industry.
- This ensures you develop a well-thought-out strategy before starting a task. Good planning skills allow you to decide what resources you need, which staff to assign, how to accurately budget, and to hit your milestones. This is really a basic skill, and without it you’re not going to go very far.
- “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” This philosophy is the key to developing and maintaining a system to keep track of materials and plans. Whether it’s finding a file or streamlining a warehouse, staying organized reduces stress and helps everyone involved to always think clearly.
- Time Management. Anyone who can’t use time efficiently to complete tasks is doomed to failure. Without this skill, you’re going to be unable to estimate how long tasks will take, to plan out a timeline, to accomplish challenging tasks, or to stay on track. Worse, since we tend to hire people like ourselves, odds are excellent your staff will suffer from a similar deficiency. This means you AND they will be tagged by upper management as detrimental to the organization’s success.
- Working Memory. You’ll accomplish tasks quicker and more effectively if you’ve mastered the ability to remember information while you’re working with it. Doing mental math, crosswords, and jigsaw puzzles are all good exercises to strengthen this skill.
- Are you aware of your own thinking? It’s critical to understanding what you do (and don’t) know. Metacognition enables your thinking to evolve as new information becomes available, and minimizes chances you’ll just adopt a position and stick to it…regardless of the facts.
- Self-Control. With the workplace changing seemingly by the hour, it’s increasingly important to regulate our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Take an extra moment to think about choices before making them, both to improve your career and fend off potentially painful matters like lawsuits.
- Breaking News: The world doesn’t revolve around you! That means you must improve your skills for focusing on others and their tasks for extended periods. Good attention skills also include refocusing when your attention is waning, ignoring distractions, and fine-tuning the level of focus necessary for a given task.
- Perseverance: You’ve set the goal. You understand the milestones and the available resources. Now put your nose to the grindstone until the job’s done. Challenges? Make them work for you. Solve those problems, and prove you’re as good as you keep telling everyone you are!