There was a time when we believed that hard skills determined your success. And for some positions it still does. But hard skills are not the only components impacting your ability to excel within a company or an industry (and they never have been).
It’s a lesson you usually learn right after you come out of college and take that first job. Or you loose it after you loose a position because of a few painful personality traits (of course they would never say it like that).
Soft And Steady Saves The Day
How you talk to people, how you handle them, makes it harder or easier for you to meet your goal. Hard skills are technical abilities that you can typically learn at school. But soft skills are quiet little deal makers that also help to determine your fate. They are primarily personality driven — you know, those things that did NOT learn at the university (at least not in class).
Here are a few questions to help you lock into a few soft skills:
- How well do you work under pressure? Do you turn into an unproductive beast when things get a little testy? Or do you rise to the occasion with quick wit and focused solutions?
- How do you handle criticism? Are you throwing a quiet tantrum and licking your wounds for weeks and weeks? Or do you roll with it and learn from the interaction?
- Is it your way or the high way? Do you know how to gel with the team? Or do you tear it apart from within?
- Do you know how to hear the people around you? And do you know how to make a point that gets the right kind attention?
- How’s your integrity? What side of a lie do you live on?
- What’s your core attitude? Do you bring the best or the worst out in people? Are you like a grade school bully picking at other team members when they’re not around? Or do you protect the integrity of the group and the mission?
Times Have Changed
According to Daniel Pink, Author of A Whole New Mind,
“Gone are the days when lawyers and doctors and computer programers excel without incorporating design, story, sympathy, empathy and meaning in their work.”
It looks like we’ll have to be more and bring more to the table in order to excel.
As for which matters the most? Develop your hard and soft skills. Because given the choice, the contract goes to the one who is skilled at what they do - and is easier to talk to.
Balance Photo via Shutterstock