Soft skills

Updated: Dec 7, 2018

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It is increasingly recognised that soft-skills are badly named. Soft means easy, hard means hard or difficult or tough. Developing the soft-skills to continue upwards in one's career, first becoming a manager of resources and then a leader of people, is difficult and often will play second fiddle to more tangible, more easily measurable skills that have a more direct impact on scarce financial resources such as revenues, profits and costs.

As the FT journalist Andrew Hill said in his recent article:

"...when a balance of two approaches (hard vs soft) would be best, the hard solutions wins out as soon as pressure is applied."

Soft-skills are here to stay as being able to influence and motivate people without the proverbial stick of performance related pay e.g. bonuses generate more sustainable impact and change. Our (human) soft-skills such as:

  • motivation

  • collaboration

  • creative thinking

  • empathy

  • context sensing

will become increasingly valuable as a proportion of the working tasks that professionals eventually perform will be either completely replaced by machines or augmented by a human-AI interface. There is considerable uncertainty about the types of tasks that will remain in the human domain but for the foreseeable future machines and AI will be poor at:

  • being able to motivate and inspire through powerful communication

  • being accessible and present in the bad times as well as the good

  • being able to build strong, trusting relationships

  • understanding their own emotions and being able to understand another person's mood

Soft-skills are anything but easy (soft) to develop and excel at. Don't view them as the easy option, view them as the difficult option but one worth investing time and effort in developing.

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