Pervasive Soft Skills

Friday, 14 September 2018 2022 Views

The motivation for learning about emotional intelligence is it is something you can improve upon (unlike your IQ) and has a tangible reward – “every point increase in EQ adds $1,300 to an annual salary”. In the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, the authors define emotional intelligence (applying soft skills) and provide strategies to improve your score – something they argue will improve work performance no matter what your profession. Soft skills are ubiquitous.

I have a broad interpretation of skills, not just technical ones for ‘skilled trades’. A skill set should include all types of skills: technical and transferable; foundational thinking; and soft (emotional). Each of the applications I have developed is based on this distinction:

With Skills Culture, I suggest to conscientiously apply skills in every experience – guaranteeing the use of transferable and soft skills.

With Skills Based Approach, I suggest constantly cycling through four stages with an evolving skill set. (Soft and transferable skills have staying power.)

With Skills Label, a practitioner creates a learning label for a task where he or she can add up to ten different skills. (Again, transferable and soft skills are on almost every label.)

I do not argue with an expert in emotional intelligence who says there are differences in how soft skills are applied and measured. All I am saying is it is possible to reference them alongside technical skills.

Reflecting on my career, I can think of situations where better soft skills could have made me more successful. Early in my career, I was asked to lead a team on a project and pitch an application to clients; project management and sales were not in my skill set. Back then, you did not always get formal training in soft skills, you learned through experiences.

I believe in experiential learning but feel we should be explicit in how we track related skills and methods (document when and how they are applied). Furthermore, I think it is intriguing for a practitioner (teacher, professor, or mentor) to understand how skills are developed through education and career stages; he or she can better setup training and even the experiences. Skills Label is an application that makes this all easy to do; takes minutes to create a learning label.

Finally, as there is a displacement of jobs to automation and artificial intelligence, we need to identify skills that make us uniquely human and build them. Two such skill areas mentioned in a Future of Jobs (2016) report by the World Economic Forum include social skills (related to emotional intelligence) and analytical skills.