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Soft Skills In the IT Environment 'Part 1 of 2

by Carole Nicolaides, Copyright 2002, All Rights Reserved

In today's competitive environment, it is not enough to be the best in your field intellectually. Competency is only half of what you need to climb the ladder of success. Retail giant Sears uses a very appropriate slogan: 'Come see the softer side of Sears.' Just like Sears, you need to show the softer side of you in order to be successful.

What is the softer side exactly? It's that part of you that will be liked, admired, trusted and remembered. As an IT executive, you may find this philosophy new because you have been required to be strong and flawless for so long. However, the new knowledge economy demands that leaders have both soft and tough personas.

Do not get fooled. Soft skills training is not for 'softies.' Exactly the opposite is true. Soft skills are important no matter what business you are in. Most managers were initially trained to focus on the competencies of an individual when in a business role. We look at their education, their accomplishments, and their career growth. However, people are people. Regardless of what vocation they have, each one of us is a human being first and foremost. Soft skills equip us to deal with the person first, and the business venue second. The results are simply amazing!

I have had the opportunity to spend of lot of time working with IT people and it was a real learning experience for me. One of the things that I realized was that, due to their character and communication styles, many times IT folks would shoot themselves in the foot once they received a promotion to management and had people under them. They would get overwhelmed, be unable to communicate well, to bond, or to motivate their people. Setting visions for their team seemed to fall completely to the wayside.

Where was the shortcoming? The organizational skills were there, so their struggle wasn't with keeping track of projects or responsibilities. The technical skills were there, so the dilemma wasn't due to a lack of practical knowledge. However, the people skills were missing, and therefore, these IT manager's teams (which are made up of people) fell apart. The solution? Acquire the missing skills!

The incorporation of soft skills into my IT associates' business practices allowed them to relate better with people, to welcome the opportunity to converse with employees and peers about business and personal issues, and to discover the motivational factors for those on their teams. In short, it enabled these executives to be well rounded and capable when it came to people as a whole.

Business standards are moving. The landscape is changing. And, as an IT executive, you may need to take a second look at your collection of skills. To succeed, you must be able to impress with your strengths, connect with your compassion, and become unforgettable by understanding and relating to the people around you. Only then you will be able to foster a cohesive and extraordinary team.

About the Author
Carole Nicolaides is president and founder of Progressive Leadership, Inc., an executive coaching firm. She assists companies in creating high-performance teams and leaders that produce outstanding results. Discover her free ezine, teleclass training and consulting in Knowledge Management, Coaching and Leadership Development when you visit

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