#856 Soft Skills

If you're in business today, you're likely hearing a lot about "Soft Skills."  The term is often posted in Linkedin, written about in business magazines, and talked about during hiring discussions. 

For the record, soft skills are defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

Hard skills, by contrast, are measurable things like computer and math skills.

Personally, I couldn't be happier to see such emphasis placed on the ability to communicate well.  As I've said before, your ability to communicate well, to influence and to move people, will have a more significant effect on your bank balance than any other skills you can master.  If I'm shopping for a great employee, in general, I'll opt for the student who won best personality rather than the smartest kid in class every time. I hire heart and train skills.

  • (Disclaimer: If I'm trying to build a better mousetrap, I want Stephen Hawking, not Tony Robbins, running the project.  BUT, to fund the lab, inspire the team, and spread the word about the new and improved mousetrap, it's Tony all day long.)

For years I've watched CFO's, COO's, CIO's, Admin folks and techs disparage this skill set.   You can't really blame them because when it's done well, it looks like nothing at all and it isn't easily measured or defined.  But while it may be hard to put your finger on, like Supreme Court Justice Potter famously said of obscenity, "I know it when I see it" When I see real people skills up close and personal, I know I am in the presence of someone great and I pay attention.

Your CFO may be able to calculate inventory carrying costs and their influence on your EBITDA, in his head, but it's the unmeasurable level of soft skill expertise in your sales team and sales leadership that allow your CFO to have an EBITDA to influence in the first place.

The level to which you learn to hone these soft skills will determine the level of success you will achieve, period.  Show me a multimillionaire with weak people skills, and I see a potential billionaire who fell short.

I'd argue that likeability outperforms hard skills everywhere.

Barry Bonds hit more home runs than anyone in MLB history, but more people showed up to see Derek Jeter.  I'd argue it's because "The Captain" was far more likable. 

·        Students learn more from teachers who relate than they do from teachers who demand.

·        Employees don't quit jobs; they quit managers.

·        People do business with people they like

·        People do business with people they trust

·        People do business with people who make them feel good about themselves

There's nothing soft about the effect of soft skills.  Hardcore success depends on them.  The funny thing is that the people who poo-poo these skills are usually the people who need them the most.

Own your sales gene…