“Soft skills” is such a poor label to describe the most important skills. They aren’t considered soft because they are optional. They are soft because they aren’t technical or easily measured. But they are more important than technical skills because they make technical skills valuable.
For instance, I remember a particular time where I needed an assessment of something and what to do about it. I asked 3 professionals and got the same answer about what the problem was and what I should do. All three gave me the same (right) answer technically. But only one was able to effectively explain, listen, and persuade me to do what I should do to fix it. All three got the right answer but only one was effective in making it valuable. Hmm.
With the professional skills like communicating, persuading, influencing and negotiating, your technical skills become valuable. Getting the right answer isn’t the end game like it used to be. The goal isn’t to show how smart you are but to make your technical capabilities valuable.
So again, I ask, if the value of your technical competence is catalyzed by your professional skills, why are there no professional skills goals in your Development Plan of Value?
Professional Skills Goals
- Where is the goal to increase your poise when interacting in difficult moments?
- Where is the goal to develop motivational resilience when you’re tired and stressed?
- Where is the goal to be able to negotiate with others so that you both get what you need?
These, and others, are professional skills that can be learned, practiced and refined. And they add value to your technical skills.
The point of all this is that your future career is dependent on the skills that you aren’t intentionally developing. They are no longer optional if you expect to fare well, be valued and avoid being commoditized or replaced. Put these skills in your Development Plan of Value and enjoy being known as a value creator.
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