What do all the most successful people tend to have in common? It’s a question that is seen as holding the answer to getting ahead in your professional life. If it works for them, it’ll work for me!
Of course experience counts, and in certain, increasingly complex industries, relevant hard skills often hold the key.
But one thing that truly sets apart the best people is the transferable skills they have that benefit them across everything they do. In a dynamic, constantly changing world, your core skills that allow you to adapt may be more important than ever.
Understanding and reading others is something that everyone knows is integral to being a successful manager and leader.
However, not everyone fully understand the importance of understanding yourself.
One of the key factors in productivity and clarity of thought is understanding and working with your emotions. Appreciating when you’re not at your best, or understanding when one outward emotion is actually hiding another, is the first step towards understanding the cause and finding a solution.
The most effective leaders know that it starts with them, and high personal emotional intelligence is valuable to all employers. When you’re going for a new role, try to remain calm during the process and focus on discussing areas of self-improvement. This way they’ll know you’re capable of identifying weaknesses or gaps in your ability before taking active steps to make them better.
As a rule, we now work in much more collaborative workplaces. People are better understood as rounded employees who may offer something unexpected and beneficial.
As a result, it is now hugely important to act speedily to a change of direction or a new requirement while continuing to offer new ideas and consult on all areas of the business.
In a more fast-paced and, at times, volatile world, your ability to react and then capitalize on changes is absolutely essential. Address how good you are at viewing things objectively, as this holds the key to responding to something new, and dropping old ideas quickly without holding on to them for sentimental reasons.
Think about times in your life when you’ve had to deal with rapid change. How did you deal with it? Could you have taken a more objective view point?
That same collaborative environment also makes it more and more important to fit into a culture of work and develop strong relationships with those around you.
Especially within smaller teams, the disruption of having one employee that nobody connects with can be huge. With the days of top-down, authoritarian management dwindling, your ability to communicate with people at all different levels is essential.
On top of this, social awareness will become increasingly important as automation and artificial intelligence play a bigger role in our lives. One thing that is likely to be very difficult to replicate is the human ability to persuade, communicate and ultimately connect with other people.
Learn to be patient with those you don’t quite click with, and endeavor to find common ground with everyone. You’ll be surprised at how significant an impact this has on the effectiveness of your team.
One of the keys to thriving in this collaborative environment is not your ability to talk. It’s your ability to communicate, and the most important skill in communication is actually listening.
Whether you’re talking to the CEO or an intern, listening is key to building trust. By switching on and actively showing that you are engaging with what the person is saying, you’re showing that you care about what they have to say.
Generally people will know when they’re not being listened to. Forget about what you’re going to say and ask them questions about what they’re talking about. Try not to interrupt. If you need to address something else and move the conversation forward, have the patience to wait until they’ve finished talking until you change the topic.
The effect of listening goes beyond simply alleviating tensions. Of course everyone likes to be listened to, and knowing that you’re not can cause a strain on any working relationship. But more importantly, if you’re not listening to people you’re not understanding them, and so you won’t be working with them as effectively as you can.
As you make your way through your career, you tend to move from learning and implementing systems of work to having a guiding hand in the nature of those systems.
As a result, the business problems become yours to solve. You could have been beaten to a client by a competitor, resolve a flaw in your product or service, or look at finding a new way to reach potential customers. Either way, your ability to objectively view a problem, collate advice and suggestions before finding the best solution is critical in this situation.
Whether or not certain problems are within your remit, allow yourself to consider how you would solve them as a way to practice. If you stumble on something good, don’t be afraid to propose your solution. In the right company, you’re far more likely to be identified as proactive and aware than disruptive.
Consider having a go at problem solving briefs in your spare time, whether industry specific or general. Like anything else, these skills are improved by practice and noticing patterns that may prove useful in the future.