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Soft Skills, Hard Results

Author by Kate Weiland

For the sake of your career—and your ability to get work done for clients—never underestimate the importance of soft skills. Soft skills get hard work done.
Recently, the New York Times published a column by Claire Cain Miller titled “Tech’s Damaging Myth of the Loner Genius Nerd.” This article is but one of many in the mainstream press this month after a high-profile firing at Google brought a focus to emotional intelligence—or, specifically, lack thereof—in the tech industry. In her column, Miller addresses programmers specifically, but these ideas apply equally to engineers, architects, administrators, and everyone else whose talents join together to create solutions:
The loner stereotype can deter talented people from the industry — not just women, but anyone who thinks that sounds like an unattractive job description. It can also result in dysfunctional teams and poorly performing products….
…It’s true that programming can be a solitary activity in college computer science classes or entry-level positions. But soon after, it’s impossible to avoid teamwork — with the business or legal departments, but also with other engineers.
Teamwork is how work gets done. In our work at Concurrency, that means teamwork with colleagues, with clients, with Microsoft and more. To be effective, you need to understand everyone’s perspectives—how they mesh, how they compete with each other, and how they impact your ability to succeed in delivering a successful outcome.
If you discount the importance of teamwork, you are compromising your career growth. To deliver outcomes to clients, which is where the rubber meets the road in proving your merits in IT professional services, you need the emotional intelligence that teamwork requires.
That means investing in yourself. Just as you invest in your technical skills, you need to build your soft skills through dedicated effort. Take advantage of overt opportunities to build your emotional intelligence—for example, at Concurrency, we offer Insights Discovery training that arms consultants with tools to navigate a high-touch world. In our view, vital non-technical skills are just as important as technical expertise. Communication skills, self-awareness, empathy, listening, and learning to build critical relationships are essential skills for personal success and to best serve clients.
Here’s the key point in a nutshell: soft skills let you put your expertise to work in the real world. Without emotional intelligence, you can’t apply your specialization broadly. You can’t understand your clients or colleagues. You can’t deliver solutions that matter.
So don’t give into the temptation to undervalue soft skills. Embrace them and get the hard work done.

Kate Weiland

Serves as Chief People Officer and thought leader on all aspects of human capital management helping to ensure that Concurrency can identify, attract, and develop diverse talent necessary to implement overall strategy.

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