by Ryan H. Law
In Part I of this 2-part series on essential (or soft) skills we discussed how a 100-year old Engineering Education report concludes that that 85% of success is based on soft skills and only 15% is based on technical knowledge.
If this is true in Engineering, I submit that it is also true in financial planning, counseling, and coaching.
In this post we are going to dig a bit deeper into why these skills are so important, and what some of the research says about which soft skills are important.
LinkedIn has done some interesting research around soft skills. They report that, “92% of talent professionals reported that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills. And 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack critical soft skills1.”
LinkedIn also compiled a list of the top 10 soft skills that employers are looking for2:
- Critical thinking
- Social skills
- Interpersonal communication
Two more examples.
Southwest airline often wins awards for being one of best places to work, and their employees often say that working at Southwest is a calling, not a job or a profession. Southwest’s CEO said that they look for the following soft skills (he also prefers the term “essential skills”) in hiring and promoting3:
And as one final example, Google put together a list of the top 10 traits of good managers, and only one of the ten are technical skills4. Their list includes:
- Career development
- Clear vision/strategy
- Decision maker
- Technical skills
Even the way the “technical skills” trait is worded looks more like a soft skill: “Has key technical skills to help advise the team.” Yes, they need key technical skills, but it is about advising a team.
What would a list look like for financial advisors?
Many of the same skills that LinkedIn, Southwest, and Google list would be on our list as well.
I’ve thought quite a bit about this and wrote out what I expect of my Financial Coaches in the counseling center I run. These also serve as our Core Values:
- We are trustworthy. We exhibit trustworthiness by following the MMRC Code of Ethics.
- NOTE: Our Code of Ethics discusses confidentiality, objectivity, competence, and professionalism.
- We exhibit excellent listening, verbal, and written communication skills.
- We show respect for our clients and other Coaches by being nonjudgmental and showing compassion and empathy.
Soft skills will be a primary topic on my blog. I feel that if financial planners, counselors, and coaches can learn and improve on these key skills our profession will grow.
- Choose one soft skill that you want to work on improving, and make a plan to work on that skill this week. For example, you could order a book, look up articles online, or look for a TED talk on that subject.
References and Resources:
(1) LinkedIn: Candidates’ Soft Skills are Notoriously Hard to Assess, But Following These 6 Steps Will Help
(2) LinkedIn Talent Blog: Data Reveals The Most In-Demand Soft Skills Among Candidates
(3) Why Southwest Says Soft Skills Reign Supreme
(4) Google Project Oxygen revisited: What it takes to be a great manager
Communication image licensed by Ingram Image – Stock Photo Secrets (AFF)