Patrick’s Monday Vista 11- Obstacle to Progress
I used to think that the main obstacles standing in the way of business advancement were the lack of capital, time and material resources. However over the last ten years working on a wide range of supply chain projects with client companies ranging from multinationals to state-owned enterprises and SMEs, I have come to the conclusion that the real obstacle to business advancement is a dearth of the right people with the right types of skills and experience.
Often, the skills that matter most when it comes to the challenge of conceiving, planning and implementing business initiatives and projects that add real business value are not the analytical and technical skills that are most often the product of formal training and education. These “hard” skills are necessary but they are not sufficient.
What is required in addition is a high degree of self-awareness and self-worth that can only come from the development of the soft skills required to acquire the necessary confidence, conviction and judgement to carry these ambitious business initiatives through to successful completion. Those who operate at the highest level need to be able to be in the moment, take responsibility, and step up to the plate to show leadership when it matters most. They need to be comfortable to ask for what they need, question colleagues and peers, and challenge the status quo.
Traditionally there has been a gap in addressing these types of skills explicitly and soft skills acquisition has come about more through chance and opportunity than through design. Fortunately, we are now beginning to see the emergence of explicit soft skills development through academic institutions, professional bodies and corporates. Given its experiential and reflective nature, soft skills development is a career-long process. It is the turbo that supercharges traditional knowledge acquisition.
In time, this holistic, career-long approach to skills development should produce more individuals who will know how to delegate effectively, communicate compellingly and help other colleagues and peers to grow, thus perpetuating a virtuous circle.
This augurs well for the future, not just for the contribution to a more competitive economy but also for the creation of a better society.
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