This is a guest post by Career and Executive Coach, Dean Karrel.
Dialogue about the importance of soft skills and social skills in business settings is nothing new. There have been books written on the subject, articles on business websites, and many stories in magazines. You’ve probably received emails about seminars or courses offered at local colleges. If you attend any industry related conventions, inevitably there is a breakout session on the topic of soft and social skills.
These seminars, books and articles all offer guidance aimed at making you a better leader, business person, or coworker. Some people show real interest in learning more while others may just shrug their shoulders, viewing those skills as “nice to have, but not required.”
In my years working in the corporate world and now as a career and executive coach, I have met many people with some pretty high-powered titles and educational credentials that were really impressive, too. Many of these individuals have had successful careers in their industries. However, there have also been a large percentage who, even with advanced degrees or lofty corporate titles, have been ineffective leaders or have fallen well short of their potential.
I think their biggest deficit has been their weak and ineffective soft skills and social skills capabilities.
Through the years, the people I have worked with have heard me say that “Mastering the Basics” are the most important lessons to learn and understand in both our business and personal lives. What do I mean by “Basics?”
I’m referring to the qualities and behaviors that we often take for granted and we assume that people know or will learn on their own. Soft skills such as work ethic, showing empathy, believing in yourself and emotional intelligence are just a few example of virtues often not taught in schools or colleges, but should, in my opinion, be required courses.
There is that top five percent of people in business who are brilliant, the strategic thinkers, the inventors, and the leaders who just have that special intelligence. Jeff Bezos, Indra Nooyi, Marc Benioff, Meg Whitman, and Steve Jobs are just a few who come to mind. You can review lists online of the top 100 leaders in business and get a feel for what I mean. They all have that special “something” that puts them in that elite category.
For the rest of us, how do we break away from the pack and become successful business people, leaders, and also respected individuals?
I think it’s the ability to take what we have learned from formal classes and combine it with giving extra attention to the impact of strong soft and social skills. Those who downplay this may feel that capabilities such as smiling, eye contact, being true to your word and saying “thanks” are just meaningless skills, but I’m here to tell you they are not. It seems to me that the vast majority of these skills, along with education, are what make a successful business person.
In presentations I make and courses I teach with LinkedIn Learning, I often make reference to the importance of soft and social skills. Whether you are a project manager, sales representative, or an IT professional, how you work with others is important. If you are in a leadership position, it is essential.
Formal training in management, technical expertise, or staying current with social media marketing are critical skills, depending on your job. However, spending time improving our social skills, soft skills and “The Basics” can only pay us dividends and make us better business people and individuals.
DEAN KARREL is a Career and Executive Coach. He is the instructor of twelve courses with more than 600,000 views available on LinkedIn Learning and has also been in senior leadership positions for more than three decades, including 22 years at Wiley, with major global publishing companies. He is the author of Mastering the Basics: Simple Lessons for Achieving Success in Business, published by Post Hill Press.
Mastering the Basics is available on Amazon and wherever fine books are sold.