PDX Guest Blog - Are Soft Skills the Elephant in the Room?

Soft skills are not fluffy or namby-pamby but, emerging as vital links to high-performance, growth mindset and future business success. This article explores why businesses can’t afford to ignore the ‘soft-stuff’ anymore.

Despite the catchy header and graphic, this is a serious and wide-reaching blog. So, I’m delighted to have joined forces and co-write this blog with Andrew Jenkins, founder of PDX Consulting and author of The Authority Guide to Developing High Performance Teams. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to partner with Andrew on this comprehensive blog and look forward to working with him on future collaborative efforts. This article builds off ELI’s recent guest blog for TREW Marketing, a company focused on marketing for engineers.

Let’s start with a definition of soft skills:

Soft skills is an umbrella term for a cluster of productive personality and relationships traits that drive high performance. They are essential skills for leaders to master. In short, it’s a term for professional, social, and career skills. Soft skills include emotional intelligence, communication abilities, collaborative skills, personal habits, cognitive and emotional empathy, time management, teamwork and leadership traits. (Wikipedia - abridged)

The elephant in the room

In the 90’s so-called soft skills were seen as a fluffy set of nice-to-have qualities. I’ve even heard them termed, ‘namby-pamby’. Whereas traditionally, the big career prizes of one’s competence were mainly represented by hard-technical skills. This view is sadly still prevalent in our many businesses and workplaces today. Aubrey believes this is true particularly in engineering for example.

But, all that’s old-hat now - it needs to change. Why? Read on.

Yes, I know, KPI’s, hard-measures and scorecards and so on benchmark and drive efficient business processes. Yes! That will always be true. However, today they are at best marginal gains and just a given now - been-there-done-that. But, the real money is now on soft skills to make significant differences in high performance, profit growth and business success from now on.

The reason for this is the shift in global economics, the technology and upcoming IA revolution as well as the new attitudes and expectations of the millennials generation now arriving in our workplaces. Things are rapidly changing - at a seemingly dizzy pace too.

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