Foundational Skills to Leverage in the New Year

Posted on: January 28, 2022, by :

Foundational Skills to Leverage in the New Year

Originally published on Inside Indiana Business, January 20, 2022.

Being proficient at completing the technical aspects of your position can only take you so far. To stand out from others, strong foundational skills are required. Individuals who are self-aware and adept at communication and relationship building, position themselves and their organizations for success.

Increasingly organizations are prioritizing foundational or “soft skills” during the hiring process. Alexandra Levit, workforce futurist and author of Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future, explains, “while most people are hired for their technical abilities, their soft skills give them career durability.” If these skills are so critical, you cannot afford to overlook the fact that further developing your foundational skills can improve your effectiveness, longevity, and mobility.

So, how do you go about leveraging your foundational skills? Here are three strategies to help position you for improved effectiveness.

Become self-aware. While much of what occurs is outside of your control, you can control how you react to situations and how you present yourself. This involves understanding your preferences, tendencies, and resources. You position yourself to cope better with the unexpected when you understand the potential of these aspects.

Employees, customers, and potential customers consider more than your title when interacting with you. They develop impressions of you that are influenced in part by your knowledge, skills, and abilities. This means that every interaction that you have with others impacts your reputation and the organization’s brand.

Recognize any negative habits and develop ways to improve upon them. Micromanaging, or being disorganized or disingenuous, are just a few habits that can lead to major challenges. To improve, replace negative habits with positive ones.
Understand how you tend to react in stressful situations and consider the impact of your work style on others.

Improve communication. You should never assume that others always understand what you mean or what you need, nor will you always understand the needs and intentions of others. In the words of Peter Drucker, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” Leaders and managers, you may need to improve your communication skills if you:

  • Always assume your team understands your comments or directives.
  • Disrespect your team, peers, or customers by failing to be punctual.
  • Dismiss the opinion of others or miss opportunities to ask for input when it is warranted.
  • Ignore constructive criticism or fail to appreciate how you can improve your work.

Enhance relationships. People want to connect with others who listen well, express empathy, and respect their time. Why? When you are genuinely empathetic, respectful, and understand the needs and concerns of others, you add value to their lives. Then, others appreciate opportunities to interact with you, which in turn positively impacts the organization and your ability to make progress.

Improving your foundational skills is within reach. Don’t settle for less. Your customers and organization deserve your best, and your career may depend upon it.


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