What is the most important “career skill”?

Peter Newfield asked what is the most important skill you can build to help your career. 59 people responded – clearly something EVERYONE has an opinion on! Here’s the abbreviated list, in no particular order;

  • critical thinking, decision-making problem solving
  • acting consistent with one’s values
  • adaptability, willingness to change, versatility, willingness to learn
  • interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, empathy, politeness, getting along with people
  • building relationships, networking
  • focus, results orientation, discipline
  • financial management
  • leadership, team motivation
  • openness to differences,tolerance, harmony
  • readiness for new opportunities
  • inquisitiveness
  • honesty
  • vision
  • passion
  • team spirit
  • ride out politics
  • asking the right questions, listening
  • communication, public speaking, writing
  • creativity
  • negotiation skills
  • technical skills
  • humility
  • speed and accuracy
  • resolve, will, perseverance
  • fearlessness, courage
  • self knowledge, remaining true to oneself
  • self belief, great self image
  • commitment, responsibility, work ethic
  • patience, faith

Here’s the original conversation.

As someone who has never had conventional career aspirations, I’d say that the ability to select a great boss, and an openess to new opportunities, have helped me the most.

Your turn. Which skill has helped YOU the most in your career? 

Please join the discussion by leaving a comment below. Thanks.

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Are “learning styles” important?

Terry Wilcox asked whether LinkedIn members believe in “learning styles”. Lots of responses to this one, with many people reflecting on the combination of factors that influence whether someone learns.

I’m ok with “learning styles”, but I’ve found it to be a relatively small part of the equation that determines whether the learning leads to behavior change, which is usually the goal.

In my experience, adults change their behavior when

M x O x V x E x R x S > C

M – they are MOTIVATED to address the issue because it is of personal relevance and importance

O – they have a sense of personal OWNERSHIP of the changes required

V – they have a VISION of the benefits a change in their behavior will bring

E – they have a strong EXPECTATION OF SUCCESS if they attempt to change their behavior

R – they have the RESOURCES they need to learn and change their behavior (this is where learning styles fits in)

S – they receive SUPPORT and reinforcement


C – they perceive the COST of changing their behavior to be personally acceptable.

Here’s the original conversation.

Which of these factors do YOU find it hardest to work in your favor? 

Please join the discussion by leaving a comment below. Thanks.

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Can HR be a route to the top?

Balaji Hari Rao asked whether an HR person can rise to the top of a business that is not in the HR field. Apparently this is a question that crops up pretty regularly on LinkedIn; perhaps because there are over 335,000 members of one LinkedIn HR group alone!

A number of respondents linked to discussions which listed CEO’s with HR somewhere in their background. There were thoughtful comments on what can be developed through experience in HR, and how HR executives can increase their value and potential by sticking close to the business and delivering real value. 

Mounir Al Shaltony gave the most thoughtful response, which expanded on the opportunities HR executives have to impact important strategic priorities. 

Given that MAKING money is the essential measure of success in the top job, I’d advise HR professionals with aspirations for top job to get themselves into the operational side of the business early in their career. Manage a machine, a store, a profit center or a business line.

Here’s the original conversation.

What have been the most valuable experiences YOU’VE either had or observed outside HR? 

Please join the discussion by leaving a comment below. Thanks.

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What does the future of work look like?

Jennifer Cotterill asked what people expect to be the key changes/trends in working patterns in the next 10 years. Respondents gave some really interesting insights, all around the themes of technology, flexibility and demographics.

I see many of their predictions as the harbingers and enablers of the bigger change; if we look out even 5 years I think we can forget not just about careers, but the very notion that we have “a job”.

More and more of us will be managing a portfolio of activities; paid employment for a portion of our time, freelance work on projects, participation in micro-activities we count by the hour not the day, our own small business, skills and services trades within our network etc. This will have huge implications for businesses, and the whole social, legal and economic infrastructure.

Charles Handy was right; perhaps just a little early.

Here’s the original conversation.

What are YOU doing to prepare yourself for the end of the “job”?

Please join the discussion by leaving a comment below. Thanks.

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Why the long break?

This summer & fall I explored some of the more mainstream social media. I tried a couple of anonymous blogs for a couple of weeks; I tweeted on a broad range of issues no one but I seemed to find interesting; I expanded my connections on LinkedIn; I watched other people’s lives on Facebook; I ate at some fine, cheap restaurants courtesy of the foodies at Yelp!; I stirred the pot on a few news sites; and spent far too much time with my fellow fans in The Shed at chelseafc.com.

I knew there are people who live online, but my goodness, there are so many people making a living online – mostly by telling other people how they could be making a living online!

The most interesting location for an introvert like me is undoubtedly at LinkedIn. LinkedIn members post questions (unfathomably called “Answers”), providing an endless source of opportunities for me to give the world the dubious benefit of my wisdom.

More importantly, combining LinkedIn and blogging have enabled me to connect for short conversations with a great number of very interesting people in a wide variety of walks of life – the perfect alternative to attending professional conferences in order to network.

So I’m going to keep blogging – even if no one else joins in!

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Which management style leads to greater productivity?

Marcus Cage asked whether an autocratic or democratic management style leads to greater productivity. I was surprised that over half the respondents thus far have made a choice.

I told Marcus there is unlikely to be a straightforward answer, if the enormous list of books on management and leadership style on Amazon is anything to go by. 

There are plenty of effective models for understanding different leadership styles, and many useful resources for helping leaders understand their own styles and preferences. But even leaders who are able to flex their approach often still struggle with which style to lead with in a particular situation. And the answer to THAT question starts not with the leader, but the led, and what they need to reach greater levels of achievement.

I think Hersey and Blanchard’s work on Situational Leadership is still the simplest and most actionable explanation of how to adjust the direction and support a leader should provide, based on the demands of the situation and the needs of the employee. 12Manage has a short overview – the site itself is a great resource you’ll want to bookmark.

Here’s the original conversation. I’m sure it’s going to continue for a while.

The next question must be – what other management or leadership factors do YOU think have a significant impact on productivity?

Please join the discussion by leaving a comment below. Thanks.

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What makes communication SO difficult?

Christopher Jones-Warner asked what are the critical communications challenges faced by business leaders.

Most responses listed problems associated with TELLING. Guy Farmer hit the nail on the head; the real communication breakthrough for a leader comes when s/he LISTENS. Listening leads to understanding; what the other person needs to hear, how best to explain it so s/he’ll really understand; how to ensure action follows.

My response? A quote from Hamlet, tipping a nod to Christopher’s business;  “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” I think Guy’s response was more helpful!

Here’s the original conversation.

Now we’ve established that communication challenges aren’t really to do with the topic; what do YOU think the most difficult topics are for managers to communicate clearly?

Please join the discussion by leaving a comment below. Thanks.

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