Research Suggests Employers Seek Candidates With Strong Social Skills

Research Suggests Employers Seek Candidates With Strong Social Skills

Article
Strong cognitive skills--those that can be measured with IQ tests, for instance--are always in demand in the marketplace. However, new research by economists finds that employers are also increasingly searching for applicants with other strengths: "non-cognitive" soft skills such as teamwork, collaboration, and oral and written communication skills.This is a strong affirmation for the leaders I know who have been putting in the work to strengthen their self-knowledge, listening skills, executive presence and other aspects of emotional intelligence."Strong cognitive skills are increasingly a necessary — but not a sufficient — condition for obtaining a good, high-paying job," says David J. Deming, an economist and professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. "You also need to have social skills." One reason for this, he suggests, is that in many jobs there is…
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Why Lead With Transparency?

Why Lead With Transparency?

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How many times do you leave a one-on-one meeting or conversation with your boss or coworker feeling unsure about just what their motivations were, or what kind of impact you made? “What did they really think about what I had to say?” you might ask yourself. “I wish they weren't so hard to read.” How often do you go over the meeting in your mind, creating a “what if?” scenario, or coming up with stories of what just happened, before deciding to just move on and hope for the best?Situations like this are common at organizations and they are also avoidable, when leaders practice and encourage transparency by being clear, honest and forthright. Transparency in business means sharing information with others, including sharing the impact of others’ words and actions. It can be difficult to…
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5 Ways to Grow Personal Leadership

5 Ways to Grow Personal Leadership

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I recently attended a talk for human resource leaders that brought in Hitendra Wadhwa, a very popular professor at Columbia Business School and founder of the Institute for Personal Leadership (IPL). Wadhwa is a mathematician who has made a study of what makes a great leader. It didn’t surprise me that this scholar found that great leadership comes from the person you are inside, rather than being imposed from the outside, but I was excited to learn that his research offers some quantifying evidence to back up that philosophy, which I share. Letting your inner self be your "guiding light," as Wadhwa eloquently put it, is easy to say, but it's not always clear to each of us how we can bring that about. Wadhwa proposed paying attention to five key aspects of self. I'll…
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So Simple and So Good For You

So Simple and So Good For You

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Reading books is good for you. Even Oprah says so.(Writing books is, too, even if while you're doing it you're not sure if you'll ever finish. Ahem.)Late last summer I finished writing my first book. Among other benefits, that experience gave me even more respect for book authors than I had before. Writing is hard work. Putting your ideas and words out into the world for others to read—and perhaps criticize—is also a challenge. So one of my goals in the New Year, now that I'm done writing my first book, is to read more of other people's books. It’s sometimes hard to carve out time for book reading but I notice that when I do, what I get from a good book reverberates in my life far beyond the time…
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Research Says To Lend a Listening Ear (And Not an Eye)

Research Says To Lend a Listening Ear (And Not an Eye)

Article
A recent study offered an interesting twist on what makes for effective listening. According to research, listeners who hear a speaker by phone, or with eyes closed, tend to more accurately gauge the speaker’s emotions than listeners who are also looking at the speaker by video conference or in person. According to an article in the journal Yale Insights, “The research suggests that simple phone calls might be sufficient for bringing together far-flung colleagues.” This might be good news for businesses that want to cut back on travel for face-to-face meetings. It’s also somewhat of an affirmation of what I’ve noticed in my own work. I do phone as well as in-person coaching, and while I feel confident that I’m gleaning a person’s emotions face-to-face, I have also felt that the phone coaching…
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How To Align Intentions and Actions

How To Align Intentions and Actions

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We all sometimes show up in the world in a way we didn’t intend. Sometimes it's a moment we learn from and move on, but at other times we get stuck showing up repeatedly in ways that go against who we really want to be. To fix that, we need both clearer intentions, and also a sharper awareness of how we come across to others.Take a leader I worked with whom I’ll call Alex. He knew he wanted to be a strong, empathetic leader. He is very talented, and had risen quickly in his field. Yet he was unhappy and uninspired when I met him, while working at a job he should have loved. He was stressed by his boss, John, who was unsupportive and demanding, and Alex was handling…
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How to Identify and Manage Your Triggers

How to Identify and Manage Your Triggers

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“He knows how to push my buttons.” “She just gets under my skin.” Is there a person, place or situation that always seems to trigger a dramatic emotional response from you? There are many common behavioral and situational triggers. These include not feeling heard, encountering a person who needs to be right all the time, being in a situation that makes you feel excluded, feeling inequity, others talking too much, others not talking enough, and observing arrogance or entitlement. Yes, many people respond with frustration or irritation at these situations. But only some people will have a response that is quick and deeply emotional, a feeling of button-pushing that likely comes from past experiences, and perhaps a conflict with our deepest-held values and beliefs. Sometimes the triggers are related to blind spots we…
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The Nice Trap

The Nice Trap

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“I just don’t feel joy in this job anymore.” I was sitting in a windowless conference room with my new client, Derek. It felt a bit stifling, like the heat was on too high, and Derek seemed equally confined by the office chair he’d chosen to sit in. There were two nice armchairs across the room, and I suggested we move. He agreed politely but without much enthusiasm. He had soft features and a gentle manner, and I immediately felt we’d get along. When we sat again, I waited for him to continue. I’d been told this software engineer for a major retailer had a lot of talent and that his team really loved him. Yet he was not happy at all. “I just want to get better results,” he…
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Restoring Power Through Rhythm

Restoring Power Through Rhythm

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Whether in the regular tempo of a cyclist’s pedal stroke, or in the pattern of a leader’s day, rhythm creates energy. Our brains love repeating rhythmic patterns: research has shown that our body’s cells are something like tiny clocks, with rhythmic sequences synchronizing sleep, digestion, muscle activity, and so much more. As the school year starts and my family re-establishes the rituals and rhythms of fall, I am reminded of the importance of daily patterns and repetitions as a way of nurturing our lives, from helping a family stay together to creating a healthy and engaged team at work. We like to establish a common pulse that we can lock onto. Most leaders, including the ones I work with, also follow and establish rhythms to create better structure, commitment, and norms. All…
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5 Helpful Questions For Leaders about Family History

5 Helpful Questions For Leaders about Family History

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Families and organizations both bring individuals together into a group. That's not all they have in common. At work, individuals may end up in a role or position that evolved from their role in their childhood family. Whether we are the person everyone counts on at work, the one who gets along with everyone, or the “problem child” who can’t seem to do things right, we tend to bring what we learned early about our roles to bear on on work with others. If you are struggling with a leadership issue, especially one that has cropped up in more than one workplace, it’s possible that you could benefit from thinking about your family of origin, and considering how it might be impacting your current situation. Some questions to consider: Is…
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