What is a skill?
A skill is not just something you are born with, but it’s also something that can be taught. Having an ability to learn new skills is what distinguishes humans from animals. For example, cats are born with the ability to land on their feet, no matter how far they fall or which angle they land at. But being able to open a door with a credit card is something that even some animals cannot do.
Understanding the “soft” in soft skills
Hard skills are the ones you can measure and put on your CV, such as typing or programming languages. Soft skills are more challenging to define and demonstrate, but they contribute so much more to your overall value. Some examples of soft skills are: The ability to adapt in new situations The level of comfort you have around other people Your ability to learn new things.
The importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses
Knowing what you are good at is one thing, but also knowing what you are bad at is just as important. From that perspective, there’s no such thing as a useless skill. Every skill has its proper place in the grand scheme of things, but just knowing what these are is not sufficient. Only by knowing where your skills are lacking will you be able to improve yourself and become that much more valuable for future employers or partners. Appreciating the importance of having a mission in life
As a final thought, a mission is not just a clever tool to stand out from the crowd. It’s something that gives you a reason to learn and grow as an individual. Someone without a sense of direction will have a hard time applying all those skills they have been gathering along the way. As it turns out, working for its own sake isn’t as fulfilling as working towards a goal that matters.
The cost of ignorance vs the benefit of insight
Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is crucial, especially when it comes to choosing a career path. If you don’t know what you are good at, you will end up doing something that doesn’t fully satisfy you. And even if you do find something you are good at, your true potential will never be realized.
On the other hand, knowing what you are bad at can also have its perks. Most people tend to become perfectionists in their areas of expertise and discard anything that has to do with their weaknesses (yes, I’m pointing at myself here). But if you know what exactly is holding you back, it will be much easier to find the necessary resources in order to improve yourself.
Only by knowing what skills are required for your career path and which ones you are lacking will you have a chance of progressing towards your goals. When your mission is clear, learning new things becomes way less daunting. Finally, working towards something that matters will make it more satisfying in the end.
The above are just some of the reasons why you should keep track of your skills and monitor your progress along the way. Even if you lack some abilities right now, who knows how much they can improve by following certain steps? All these points are also valid for me personally, so I have decided to start a blog where I’ll be tracking my own progress and hopefully help you do the same.
The combination of all these factors will give you the insight needed to progress in life, not just develop new skills. That’s why I have decided to call this project SkillInsights , an online journal that enables everyone to keep track of their own skills and progress.
Which Ones Are More Important: Soft Skills or Hard Skills?
The answer is easy, if both soft and hard skills are required for the job you want to do, then either one can be more important than the other. But there are career paths out there that focus almost entirely on one of these two categories.
What I mean by this is that certain jobs rely almost exclusively on the candidate’s ability to perform specific tasks. Those that require high levels of creativity, for example, will focus more on one’s soft skills than hard skills. While there are still certain abilities that are expected from everyone (like the ability to write coherent emails), it’s the way these skills are used that matters most.
The Importance of Soft Skills Increases in Management and Leadership Roles:
The ability to communicate, work as part of a team and be flexible are becoming ever more important skills required by managers worldwide. This is according to new research carried out by a global leader in career transition and talent management.
The survey polled nearly 5,000 managers from 20 countries* around the world, including the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Australia across Europe, North America and Australasia.
The research identified a variety of soft skills that successful managers have in common, including the ability to work as part of a team (71%); being flexible and adaptable in their approach (60%); effective communication skills – written and verbal – both internally and externally with clients (60%) along with listening carefully to others (51%).
Furthermore, half (49%) of those polled highlighted that managers need to be good at motivating and setting a strong example for their staff, while 47% stated that managers should be able to demonstrate ’emotional intelligence’ – being aware of your own emotions as well as those of others.
The research also found the importance of soft skills increases as people progress into more senior roles. While nearly half (46%) of junior managers said soft skills were important, this increased to more than three-quarters (76%) of middle managers and 87% for directors.
In addition, the research identified that being a good leader is also strongly tied in with having effective soft skills. In fact, just under two-thirds (65%) of those polled said managers needed to be able to demonstrate effective leadership qualities. Chief among these was the ability to motivate teams (50%) and set goals for employees (47%).
The research also found that managers can be made or broken by the soft skills they have. More than four in five (82%) of respondents stated that excellent managers are successful because they have great people skills, while just one in five (19%) believed that the reverse is true.
In a separate question, nearly two-thirds (62%) of those polled said they would not want to work for a manager who lacked soft skills. Over half stated this was because managers need to have good people skills in order to be effective motivators and leaders, while almost one third (30%) said it’s because people skills are more important than technical abilities (32%).
It can be concluded, therefore, that if you want to make yourself more valuable as a manager, having effective soft skills is essential. Even though hard skills are still important for any management role, learning how to apply them will take different forms and strategies.
Having soft skills (ability to work as part of a team, flexibility and adaptability etc.) can mean the difference between getting that promotion or not. It is not just about avoiding certain pitfalls – that is something we all should try to do – but having specific abilities to make you stand out from the crowd.