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What are the "Hard Skills" and "Soft Skills"? ... (and why behavioral skills are essential)

Soft / behavioral skills are key.

Josh Bersin writes, "Some have defined hard skills as the “skills you need to do the job” (like operating a machine) and soft skills the “skills you’re born with” (like communications and collaboration). This distinction is getting in our way because people think “hard skills” are hard, and “soft skills” are soft.  The opposite is true.

Hard Skills are soft (they change all the time, are constantly being obsoleted, and are relatively easy to learn), and Soft Skills are hard (they are difficult to build, critical, and take extreme effort to obtain).

Rename “soft skills” to “power skills,” because in reality they are the skills that give you real “power” at work. And we need to take these “soft skills” seriously. Technical skills can be bought or built relatively easily. It’s the soft skills or “power skills” that take effort. Consider the skills identified in IBM”s research [noted below]. They’re all behavioral.

These skills are not “soft” – they’re highly complex, take years to learn, and are always changing in their scope."

Closing the Skills Gap

Aim for Behavioral Skills.

IBM reports, "Executives tasked with continuously innovating and succeeding in this constantly evolving landscape, recognize that navigating it requires individuals who can communicate effectively, apply problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to drive innovation using new technologies, and draw and act on insights from vast amounts of data. It also calls for creativity and empathy, an ability to change course quickly, and a propensity to seek out personal growth. Expectedly, teamwork and organizational flexibility top executives’ list of most important attributes for success."


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