The often-forgotten check-boxes
I was speaking with a fellow professional coach type just last week about what has changed in career development in the last decade and what they see the current trends are. He spoke of something that we see reflected in a lot of data and information coming out of SHRM and a slew of articles (this one is helpful if you are interested). There is a bit of a gap in "soft skills" -- those pieces of communication, emotional intelligence, brainstorming, etc. that round us out.
In our discussion about it, we circled around the idea that often what gets people to a high level of success in something or gets us admitted to highly ranked professional schools is working through a checklist of accomplishments -- get these grades, do this extracurricular, be impressive in this way -- the things that look good on paper. But developing soft skills isn't something that as a culture we've put onto those "accomplished" checklists. We think through "an hour of studying now gets me this grade soon" but we don't think about "learning how to build my network pays dividends for years."
But they should be on our checklists - soft skills are the things employers need, they are the things that make us human, they help us collaborate and develop innovation, and they are what we need "at the top."
So a challenge to you, if you find yourself stuck or not advancing the way you want to be, not as high up as you want -- step back and look at what is on your personal (probably metaphorical) checklist: is it getting certain titles or awards on your list, but not developing your communication skills, critical thinking, or empathy? Could you add more of that to your list and make time for it? The dividends later for extra commitment to connection and communication now can be enormous.