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Eight Great Reasons to Develop Your Soft Skills
Technical skills have little value if you have poor
soft skills. Don't get me wrong, your tech expertise matters. But don't be
fooled by your tech skills. King of Linux, champion of Oracle? You've got it
made, right? Give me a break! Tech skills alone are no guarantee of success.
You've got all the hot technical certifications with
solid work experience. You're the programming guru or the 900-pound gorilla
of Network administration. You're on your way to becoming an outstanding IT
achiever? Don't make me laugh! Excellent tech activities, rapid knowledge
acquisition, tons of certificates are not the same thing as growth.
Tech skills alone don't lead to
recognition, promotion, and most importantly: opportunity. Tech skills are
important but so are your soft skills.
How well do you communicate with
your colleagues, management, clients or your employer? Are perceived as a
contributor or just another techie?
Certification is not an end in itself. Tech skills do matter.
In fact, to succeed in IT you
definitely need to have solid technical skills with a good grasp of the
fundamentals. To make any headway you need to be solid on the ground with hard
tech know-how. And the IT industry requires you to fortify yourself on a
continuous basis with up-to-date tech knowledge and concepts. Training,
certification, the Internet, books, is all opportunities available for lifelong
But what about your soft skills? As you build up your tech expertise, what
effort are you making to develop your non-tech abilities? Certification is not
an end in itself.
You need soft skills to create opportunity for
yourself. What is the use of tech skills if nobody knows you've got such
skills? The essence of education is opportunity. The essence of your technical
ability is opportunity. Use soft skills to cultivate opportunity. Use soft
skills to grab opportunity with both hands. It's wakeup time - keep the right
perspective: your value, not just your technical expertise, is your power.
Soft skills help advance your career.
Let's look at specific ways in
which soft skills can help IT professionals advance their careers (http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/careercert.html).
To bring value to organization and clients, IT staff are getting more involved
in many non-tech activities to carry out their IT tasks. Your interpersonal
skills should be top notch to deliver results with your colleagues and people
in non-IT areas you must work with. As a project manager, how do you motivate
other members of your team? You may need to work and interact with accountants
and customer service staff to develop the company's new business software.
Network professionals have to enlighten other staff on the applications of the
new wireless network and the implications of the company's security policies.
The server room is no longer a hiding place. And no matter how "good" you think you are you will not get the marks you
feel you deserve if can't communicate well with colleagues or clients. In
fact, the perception might be that you are not competent. But when you interact
better with the people you have to work with, your performance tends to improve
and they go away with a positive impression. And the meaning of positive
impression is more opportunity, more responsibility.
Soft skills empower you and create opportunities.
In my opinion, the main benefit of
soft skills is empowerment. How does your tech skill translate to value? How do
you create opportunity? Soft skills are useful for creating and taking
advantage of opportunities - jobs, career and business. No matter how
great your tech skills are, when job (and or opportunity) hunting, your
marketing skills should be first-class. Otherwise others who may not be as
capable as you, but who have better marketing skills might beat you to the jobs
or work you want. There are opportunities in IT. But there are also challenges
and competition. In such a competitive environment, perception often reigns
If your technical competencies are similar to those of
other candidates how do you differentiate yourself? You claim to be a technical
wizard. The problem however, and this is a big however, is how do I know if you
are good if you can't sell what you have - yourself or your ideas? Your
certifications and previous work experience are important. But the issue at
stake is this: can you convince the interviewer or clients that you will solve
their problems and deliver value?
Soft skills not only improve your career, they also offer personal growth.
the acquisition of soft skills also empowers you by allowing you to build
flexibility into your future IT career plans (http://www.jidaw.com/careerplan.html).
How? Most soft skills are regarded as transferable skills, e.g. communication,
project management, business and team work, which are needed in nearly all
aspects of life, not just for your career alone. You need to grow not just as a
techie but also as a person.
Do you have more tech skills than sense? Work on communication and leadership.
an IT professional, you have confidence in your technical abilities. But is
your technical masterpiece built to last? Tech skills are important, but such
abilities are no guarantee of career fulfillment. There is no way you can
sustain an IT career with just tech skills. You get the job done but what is
your impact? What is your influence? What really is your aim in acquiring that
certification? Is certification an end in itself? No it's for opportunity,
for career growth. It's good to acquire skills, but please be sensible.
Unfortunately, many of us seem to emphasize having more skills than sense.
skills that make a difference include communication, leadership, teamwork,
problem solving, project management (http://www.jidaw.com/itsolutions/project.html)
Having the required interpersonal skills provides a
must-have foundation for career growth. They give you the ability to take
advantage of challenges and opportunities that will come your way. When you
empower yourself, you stay ahead of the crowd.
Soft skills help you grow beyond money motivation.
rid of the tech-only approach. How serious are you about your influence, impact
and career growth? Your technical expertise doesn't stop you from developing
leadership and motivational skills. And how far can you go without a positive,
can-do, can-bounce-back mindset? When facing challenges, stop being a moaner,
instead develop some backbone. Grow beyond money motivation. You can be
self-motivated and also motivate everyone around you.
Oracle superstar, what really is the big deal in
understanding how the business works and how you can enhance value? Cisco
authority, don't you know it is myopic to be selfish when it comes to sharing
knowledge with colleagues. Uncaring attitudes don't encourage teambuilding.
Java expert, you don't have to turn nasty simply because the client is
Developing professional ethics is vital to your career.
negative conduct whether deliberate, due to ignorance, or because of an
unsupportive environment. No matter your environment, you can't afford to be
ignorant, insensitive or unprofessional simply because you feel you are a
technical guru. IT "Hot stuff", swallow your pride, dig deep and identify
your soft skills gap. Then make a conscious effort to close the gap. Nobody is
perfect. But that's no excuse to empower your weaknesses. Developing your
tech skills while actively cultivating poor soft skills is akin to moving one
step forward, two steps backwards. It burns and wastes what you hold dear
-time, money, resources and your future. Poor soft skills devalue. Period!
Control co-worker's perception of you as a professional and an expert in your
If you are perceived as being
difficult and unfriendly, of what value are your Linux skills when no one is
ready to work with you? Are you doing your best in your area of specialization?
But to people that interact with you - colleagues, clients, instructors,
managers - what is their perception of you? A great asset, a fantastic
contributor, just someone who does IT stuff, or the techie from hell? It's a
hard fact of life, but this book will often be judged by its cover. Most
importantly, it's not just about succeeding in work or business. What is the
essence? To grow as a professional, to grow in business, you must also grow
as a person.
Why soft skills? Why not soft skills? Does a tech
professional need soft skills? Is the Pope Catholic?
Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com (http://www.jidaw.com)
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What Do you Have to Say? Post Your Comments about this content resource Here.
September 19, 2007
W Beddoe from Stamford, CT says:
Right On! Very well constructed.
Fred from Lagos says:
Where can one go training in these soft skills? I think we don't have enough training on them. Good work again!
Patrick Yemi Adeleke from Brasilia, Brazil says:
This is a well-timed and appropriate write-up particularly in the
contemporary era in IT world when focus is shifting to
people-skill among IT professionals.
Ali Bash from Kaduna says:
I think as he as put it, common sense is very important. I know many people who are having problems just due to lack of communications skills and manner of approach.
DISRUPT THE STATUS QUO!
Ideas are not enough. You must be action oriented to improve your future.
Don't just think but act. You get results not only from thinking but from acting.
You have ideas. You want to achieve. You want opportunity.
But what are you still doing in your comfort zone? The comfort zone is a dangerous place.
"I wanted to", "I was going to" cannot put on a light bulb, not to talk of moving you forward.
Aren't you tired of hoping and criticizing? Stop defending status quo that locks you down.
GO on the offensive now with IT Education and Empowerment.
What is the use of ideas without action?
Start becoming the achiever you deserve to be.
MAKE SURE THERE IS NO STANDING ROOM FOR EXCUSES.