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Technical Skills Can Land You a Good Job, but it Won’t Help You Climb the Job Ladder: The Importance of Communication Skills at Work
According to an article in Business Insider, “Australian businesses are making do with mediocre senior executives because they can’t find enough with the right skills to motivate and get the best from staff.”1
Everyone knows that Australia is hungry for people with IT, engineering, and meta-data skills. Everyone knows that these skills can (eventually) land you that first job.
But those skills won’t hoist you up the job ladder. For real advancement, you need to have seriously good people skills. It’s those soft skills that are needed to become a leader; as this Business Insider article states:
“Critical soft skills are missing or under-developed: empathy, problem solving and creativity, and fostering collaboration and innovation.”
The article cites a LinkedIn study that observed that 69% of human resources decision-makers in Australia and New Zealand say that it’s difﬁcult to ﬁll leadership positions.
That’s over two-thirds! And it’s not for want of available person-power: organisations receive hundreds of CVs daily from people stuffed with astonishing technical credentials.
Leaders are those who, through example, can inspire creativity and innovation. The leader who bellows “Just do it!” is becoming a thing of the past. Indeed, many studies have also shown that active listening is a skill needed by all leaders; Forbes published an article entitled “Six Ways Effective Listening Can Make you a Better Leader.”2
The Virgin Group founder Richard Branson agrees: “If you want to stand out as a leader, a good place to begin is by listening,” he said.“Great listeners are often terrific at uncovering and putting in place strategies and plans that have a big impact.”3
Problem is, people are so busy checking out stuff on their cells phones that the crucial skill of INTERPERSONAL OBSERVATION is beginning to become a bit . . . obsolete. It’s hard to pay attention to your fellow humans when Pokemon beckons.
Don’t let this happen! If you can start honing your observational skills early, the better a colleague you’ll be. The better a leader you’ll be. And those skills can be used right at the beginning: at your job interview.