Handy Skills For Success

  • Print Article |
  • Send to a Friend |
  • |
  • Add to Google |

Reading books, scoring straight As, and scoring top marks in  a test may tell others how smart you are and may even jazz up your CV but do you really have what it takes to make the cut and get the job of your dreams? What kind of smart are you; book smart, street smart, or a mixture of the two?

There are many professionals who fail to climb up the corporate ladder because they cannot communicate well, are nervous to speak in front of an audience, find it difficult to initiate change and lack many other attributes which are essential for success in the professional world. Such individuals in short lack soft skills.

The real key to the effectiveness of any professional is the ability to put one's domain knowledge into effective practice. Soft skills are the abilities that are needed to enhance and augment the skills learnt in academic disciplines to make them seamlessly effective in any business or social environment. These include:

Communicative skills: delivering and presenting ideas effectively, active listening and responding. Critical thinking and problem solving skills: analysing problems, discussions and making justifiable evaluation; finding ideas and looking for alternative solutions.

Team work building a good rapport, interacting and working effectively with others both as a leader and a team player. Life-long learning & information management skills: finding and managing relevant information from various sources, receiving new ideas to perform autonomy learning

Entrepreneurship skill: identifying job opportunities. Ethics, Moral & Professional  skills: Understanding the economic crisis, environment and socio-cultural aspects professionally; analysing problem solving decisions related to ethics

Leadership skill: knowledge of the basic theories of leadership and ability to lead a project.All of these skills constitute, what is called, emotional intelligence (this is different from IQ) which is vital for doing well in any job. Daniel Goleman, a US science journalist-turned-consultant with a background in psychology, first popularised the notion of emotional intelligence in the mid-90s.

He claims that this form of intelligence is twice as important as intellectual or technical skills for better job performance. Analysing the profiles of top executives in 15 global companies, including IBM, PepsiCo and Volvo, he found what distinguished the ‘star' performers was not superior technical or intellectual ability but emotional competence (political awareness, self-confidence, drive and influence).

Using IQ as a measure of ability, Goleman believes, is an outdated method. Correlating IQ test scores with people's later success, he found IQ contributes, at best, 25 per cent towards it and, at worst, 4 per cent. In the light of this it becomes clear why so many brilliantly successful people, who were academically no-hopers at school, have exemplary emotional intelligence skills.

Considering the fact that soft skills are required at some point or the other in all jobs it is sad to point out that at present the higher education institutes in Pakistan are not giving due importance to teaching these skills to students, so that they are too able to develop vital skills that come in handy in practical life, instead are imparting education through the age old method of following the prescribed curriculum.

However, this generalisation cannot be applied to all institutes as some private colleges/universities are playing their part in equipping their students with these useful skills. Especially, the business schools in Pakistan are taking positive steps by arranging panel discussions, seminars, debates etc to help students break out of their shells so that they become effective communicators and problems solvers since this will later help them in real life business situations.

What must be realised here is that these skills are not just needed by business professionals but are essential in all professional fields. Therefore, steps should be taken to properly teach them to students of all academic fields including medicine and engineering.

"While academic achievements are undoubtedly be congratulated, they are not always indicative of the practical abilities of the candidate", says Col. (R) Tariq M H Butt who is the HR manager of Kescon Engineering (Private) Limited.

"Attitude towards job and how to get things done is as important as having the right qualifications. Perhaps some training in ‘softer' skills for graduates would be beneficial but, most of all, some realistic management of expectations for academics in terms of what they can experience in their first job, would also help remove disappointment on both sides of the employer/employee relationship."

The training in soft skills has two parts. One part involves developing attitudes and attributes, and the other part involves fine-tuning communication skills to express attitudes, ideas and thoughts. Crucial to successful work is the perfect integration of ideas and attitudes with appropriate communication skills in oral, written, and non-verbal areas. Attitudes and skills are integral to soft skills. Each one influences and complements the other.

A holistic approach is used to plan and implement the soft skills among students of higher education. This approach is based on the combination of several programs and activities; formal teaching and learning activities (including all curricular and co-curricular elements); support programs (academic and non-academic) and the students' campus life (students' residences and the campus surroundings). In general, the development of soft skills among the students via the formal teaching and learning activities takes two models: (i) stand alone and (ii) embedded.

(i)  Stand alone subject model

This model uses the approach of training and providing opportunities to students to develop soft skills through specific courses that are carefully planned for this purpose.

(ii) Embedded model

According to this model soft skills are used in the teaching and learning activities irrespective of the subject being taught. Each element of soft skills is spelled out in the learning outcomes and then translated into the instructional plan for the semester. This is then followed by implementing several teaching and learning activities such as questioning, class discussion, brain storming, team work, presentation, role play and simulation, task/project, field work and site visits.

At present, the stand alone model is predominantly used in the institutes imparting soft skills. However, in practice all the higher education institutes should try to use the embedded model since it focuses on student orientated learning (such as experiential learning and problem-based learning) and gives students practical exposure as well.

To live up to the challenges posed by globalisation the workforce of a nation should be highly intellectual and skillful. In this regard, a carefully designed and well planned education system is critical to developing such human capital.

Thus, institutions of higher learning have a very important role to play in producing human capital that is highly knowledgeable and skillful to meet the demands and expectations of employers. It goes without saying here that in order to achieve this aim, the teaching and learning processes in institutions of higher learning should be capable to provide such knowledge and skills to future graduates.

Masroor manages the SourceONE, marketing and content manager in a global marketing field. If you would like to know more about email marketing or if you are looking for service providers in this domain, please contact us at www.mahaan.net. I can give you a list and comparison of some good companies providing affordable online marketing solutions. 

Article Rating (3 stars):
  • article full star
  • article full star
  • article full star
  • article no star
  • article no star
Rate this Article:
  • Article Word Count: 1113
  • |
  • Total Views: 1171
  • |
  • permalink
  • Print Article |
  • Send to a Friend |
  • |
  • Add to Google |
>