Breedlove's Briefing: 5 Hard Truths about Soft Skills

June 24 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

Five Hard Truths About Soft Skills That Might Surprise You

Who it’s for:

Looking to grow your business skills? Then this is for you.

Why it’s important:

Continued skill growth is paramount to career advancement and fulfillment. We tend to value skills that we can easily understand and define, and these tend to be hard skills. Those that are harder to ‘see’ tend to be undervalued - soft skills - fall under this umbrella.

Yet soft skills are not a ‘nicety;’ they are a ‘necessity.’ They power career success, and business leaders swear by them. They are often more difficult to master than hard skills, and don’t be fooled: They are critical for career advancement.

Here are 5 surprisingly hard truths about soft skills to give you a head-start at acquiring these skills:

  1. They’ve Been Given an Unfortunate Misnomer. “Soft skills” refers to personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Often contrasted with so-called “hard skills” – like engineering or graphic design – soft skills have gotten a bad rap, dismissed as less valuable and viewed as secondary to hard skills. Yet there is nothing easy about soft skills, as they can be harder to master and take more practice to achieve than technical knowledge.

    According to Philip J. Hanlon, President of Dartmouth College, a more accurate descriptor is ‘power’ skills. Hanlon argues that these hard-won skills are much more important, meaningful, and necessary than ‘soft’ indicates.
  2. They’re Defining the Future of Work. In the 2019 LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report, soft skills topped the list of four big trends fueling the future of the workplace. This finding underscores a fundamental truth: At its core, business is about relationships. No matter your job function or title, in order to succeed, you must interact with other people. And those who are able to combine their hard skills with soft skills create environments that empower and ignite their teams.
  3. They’re cited by leaders as superpowers. For Oprah Winfrey, it’s empathy; for Richard Branson, it’s listening; and for Reid Hoffman, it’s collaboration. Whether they’re using them to better understand others or foster trust, each of these leaders openly touts soft skills as crucial to their success.
  4. They Matter More Than You Think. Ninety-two percent of talent professionals say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills when they hire, and 80 percent say they’re increasingly important to company success.

    Scott Hartley, a venture capitalist who worked for Google and Facebook, agrees. Hartley makes the case that the business world is heavily reliant on the human touch that soft skills bring – especially with its increasing focus on technology.
  5. They Can Always Be Improved. The wisest leaders adopt a growth mindset where they’re eager to refine and expand their skill set; they’re lifelong learners. They regularly practice interpersonal skills to hone their soft skills, and by doing so, they inject humanity back into business and put people first.

Top Take-Away: If you want to get ahead of the pack, don’t follow the norm and put all your focus on hard skills. Strong soft skills are the real ticket to success. It is worth highly valuing these invaluable skills.

Here’s a little more reading on how to build your soft skills:

How to Improve Soft Skills

Why Soft Skills Matter

5 Skills You Need to Work On No Matter What Industry You Are In

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