Thought Leadership

Jim Garrison
Soft skills matter

By Jim Garrison, Founder & President of the Diplomatic Council member Ubiquity University

A recent study in the United States shows that 93% of employees consider soft skills as, if not more, important than hard skills. A Human Capital Survey by Deloitte indicates that the top mega trend in the US since 2016 is building highly empowered soft skill teams. In a world of escalating hyper-complexity and competition, soft skills matter. Who you are becomes as important as what you know. Companies that understand this and hire people who work well with others are gaining the competitive edge. 

What are soft skills? They are a bit hard to define but they are generally considered to include creativity, collaboration, leadership, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, cross boundary team building, global thinking, whole system thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship. What makes them challenging to specifically define is that they have more to do with a person’s interior, with how they feel, how they react to circumstances, how they perform in teams, what they value. 

Hard skills are easy. They are basically about what you know. They comprise the world of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc. They are about building bridges, running airports, developing computer programs, figuring out economic data and trends. Hard skills are used to produce most of the products companies make, market and distribute. They are about the external world.

But the challenge companies face is how to manage people. People are full of emotions, fears, passions, hopes, and are often driven by internal drives they themselves do not fully understand. You may know how to program a computer, but you may not know how to work well in the team building the computer. You may know how to fly an airplane but you may not know how to deal with unruly passengers. You may know the right answer but you may not know how to manage your boss. This is where soft skills come in. They are about people, not facts. 

Bottom line for companies: having a well motivated, flexible and happy work force, interacting creatively, harmoniously and resiliently with each other and the customer increases productivity, market share, and profitability. The companies that can integrate hard skills with soft skills, High Tech with High Touch, will have the winning combination.