Good communication is one of the top determinants of a successful project…

…and I’ve always thought good communication is also a must-have skill for any professional.

After all, gaps in communication is the root cause of many significant organizational problems — and a contributing factor to many more misunderstandings, missed deadlines, failed projects, and lost opportunities.

However, I’ve come to realize that there are few other skills that run a close second to communication. 

They are often thought of as soft skills, and they are often undervalued. I prefer to call them “Power Skills”. These skills make the difference between successful and unsuccessful teams — not to mention successful and unsuccessful careers. 

Here are my top picks for must-have professional skills.

1.      Communicating

Communication is a make-or-break skill for… well, for everyone, really.  None of us work in isolation, and it’s vital that we are able to communicate effectively with team members and stakeholders. That involves:

    • Actively listening and responding to others
    • Keeping bi-directional lines of communication open
    • Tailoring communication to your audience

Good communication skills help you build consensus, secure resources, make better decisions, and deliver results that truly meet stakeholders’ needs.  That’s good for you professionally and personally — and good for anyone who works with you.

2.      Leading

Leaders lead by example — by modeling the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that elevate an organization, by taking time to build and maintain relationships with those around them, by holding themselves accountable, and by mentoring and motivating other members of the team.

Anybody can lead, regardless of their role — and everyone should.  It’s a sure path to building better relationships, resulting in a better career, a strong organization, and more impactful results.

3.      Managing

Even if they don’t have direct reports, the most effective professionals know how to manage.

    • They manage their own work, priorities, deadlines, energy, and focus. 
    • They understand who is dependent on their work and when and why they need it. 
    • They work to resolve problems wherever they find them. 
    • They hold themselves accountable.

These skills are prerequisites for being a contributing member of a team, for advancing professionally, and for taking on additional responsibilities.

4.      Effectiveness

In today’s world, change is the name of the game. The rate of change is accelerating rapidly in every arena, and to remain effective, we all need to cultivate adaptability.

Effective professionals will be agile and nimble in their approach.  They will remain curious and open to suggestions.  And they will be conscious of their own assumptions — and willing to double-check them.

These habits of mind will give anyone an edge in a quickly changing environment. And teams and organizations that display similar adaptability will be positioned to succeed.

In my experience, the highest performing teams are filled with people who consistently exhibit all four of these skills — and the organizations that employ them reap the benefits.  

Consider how you might further develop this skill set in yourself and in your current team members.  How would your life and career change if you consistently exhibited all these behaviors?

The professional who is able to communicate effectively, lead well, manage their own time and work, and respond quickly to organizational change is also the individual who will create better results, receive more opportunities, and chart a more fulfilling career path.

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Great list of skills Annmarie. I would like to add a couple more bullets, but not sure if they belong under Communication or Leadership.

    One is encouraging problem solving skills where those who know actively help those who don’t, and those who don’t know, actively seek help from those who know. Many of us tend to get caught in our own knowledge bubble or lack-of-knowledge bubble, so how do we break out and interact more with others?

    Two is idea sharing. Ideas is not only for problem solving, but is just as important for process improvement. How do we foster a team culture where sharing new ideas (regardless of effectiveness) becomes part of every day activities?


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