Success skills for today’s professional
The job market today continues to be competitive for today’s professional. People are looking for an opportunity to get started, career advancement, or to change careers. Job seekers often ask ‘what is the secret to ‘get in’ an organization’ but an equally important question is how to ‘stay in’. What are some of the qualities and skills that progressive professionals need today? The top ten in my view are:
A professional must be able to communicate well both in speaking and in writing, fearlessly and confidently. This includes being able to talk about one’s own skills, abilities, projects and ideas as well as being able to negotiate what one wants. Another vital aspect of communication is listening. Listening to others not only fosters relationship building but also valuable for gathering information and insight.
Resilience is someone’s ability to bounce back from situations or someone’s level of toughness. Too often organizations are hampered by people who have disagreements, conflicts or personal dilemmas and cannot bounce back from them, affecting their ability to move on freely. This skill helps people to deal with tough situations with a degree of maturity and optimism.
Flexibility in today’s world is key. Nothing hardly goes exactly as planned and so a savvy professional is able to think on his or her feet and become very resourceful. This also means having a solid network so that if one plan falls through, they have other people they can call on to make things happen. This means today’s professional must always have an open mind and not be locked in to only one way of doing something. Sometimes change happens to open one up to new possibilities.
Leadership & ownership
Employers are looking for people who can be leaders in their environment, who can work independently, lead and inspire others, and think like an owner. Employees that think like employees will only do as instructed and nothing more, patiently waiting on a paycheck. Employees that think like an owner are thinking of ways to improve processes, save money and time, make money, take calculated risks, and eliminate waste.
As challenging as it may be sometimes to work with others, it is a necessary skill in today’s workplace. From committees, to ad hoc groups, to just getting along in shared work spaces, being a team player is important. Working in a team teaches you to listen to and accede to the thoughts, opinions and approaches of others, to either take charge or back off as needed, and to share the load, the pain and the glory. Working alone may be easier but is a luxury that does not always exist.
Based on some of my interactions with people at work and in the community, this should probably be number one! What is emotional intelligence? As created by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayers and popularized by Daniel Goleman, is defined as one’s ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and the ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. It is easiest visualized in four quadrants: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Typically in self-assessments, you would find strengths in one or two areas with areas of improvement in others. Building capacity in all areas would definitely make you a successful 21st century professional.
Companies and leaders need people who can solve problems. Seeing problems is easy. Coming up with solutions is the skill that makes someone really valuable. With so many aspects of a business to think about, if a team has members that bring solutions and resolutions to problems and crises, then its senior leaders can focus on other things that may be even more pressing.
Coupled with problem solving is its twin critical thinking. Highly sought after professionals are ones who can think about differing perspectives, approaches, strategies and opportunities. It is being able to consider all the facts and information regarding a concept, belief, or situation in all fairness and without bias.
Perhaps those twins should be triplets because trailing closely behind problem solving and critical thinking is sound judgement. Next to low emotional intelligence is probably this particular skill and quality where people tend to make decisions that do not best serve themselves, their team, or the company. What causes someone to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing? Their judgement, among other things. Knowing what is appropriate to do and say is the mark of a mature person who will undoubtedly be successful at work and otherwise.
Finally, a professional’s capability to innovate will set them apart from those who are stuck in the mundane, routine and normal. Maintaining the status quo will not keep a business on the cutting edge of greatness. Innovation is what does that. Innovation not only thinks out of the box but it creates a new box. It finds new ways of doing something to trail blaze an industry. Innovation is what sets companies but also individuals apart from the pack and differentiating themselves from everyone else that’s doing the same old thing.
- Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant & trainer, speaker, author, mentor, and activist who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals diagnose their people and performance problems and implement strategic solutions. For comments, queries and bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org.