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[Soft Skills] How Should You Develop Soft Skills

Today, businesses are moving toward the direction of double or triple-bottom line, which includes measuring its environmental, social and governance, as well as diversity and inclusion performance, to stay relevant amid a rapidly changing and challenging marketplace.  As such, there is an increasing emphasis on soft skills in the workforce and the need to bridge skills gaps, including those for accounting professionals, who aim to play a pivotal role in driving sustainability endeavours.

Soft skills are human-centric skills that help us manage ourselves, our relationship with others and the environments we are in.  With many small terms to describe what soft skills are, the following is reworked to frame some of the key skills with suggestions on how to develop them:
  1. Have a strong sense of internal and external self-awareness to match one’s uniqueness with the work requirements and make committed efforts to excel.
  2. Build cultural capital to collaborate with people who are different from us; could they be clients of various other job disciplines or colleagues coming from different cultural background.
  3. Develop authentic communication skills for resonance.  This is not only to voice out one’s point of views but also to carry a sense of empathy, trustworthiness, and dependability.
  4. Establish ethical position by doing what we say we will do and help others achieve the same.  There is an ethical value chain to drive corporate culture.
Soft skills cannot be acquired if we do not have the right mindset.  To grow in these areas, here are some strategies you may consider employing:
  1. Read and reflect:  We are what we eat and read!  On top of readings for professional information, find time to immerse yourselves in books and movies that speak to your heart and reflect on them.  Soft skills are driven intrinsically.
  2. Build non-contractual relationships:  Authenticity, vulnerability, and empathy are crucial for a new relationship economy.   It may seem unnatural for most professionals, but relationship built upon them are beyond hard data and contracts and may drive goodwill value in the corporate balance sheet.
  3. Buddy and mentorship systems:  Grow with like-minded people.  Professional network and associations can lead to further buddy and mentorship programmes for mutual support toward shared purposes and goals.
  4. Manifesto:  State what we plan to do in our role and what changes we would make.  Communicate it and pledge to align interests with stakeholders to extend from personal aspiration to corporate and societal transformation.
Soft skills are hard to measure but easy to tell from interaction with others.   It is time to amp up these efforts and re-prioritise continuous professional development strategies to create value for yourselves, your organisations and your clients.  A journey worth travelled!
Source:  APlus Magazine article, by Jannie Tam, GROWDynamics
Tags:    Soft skills   /   sustainability    /    Climate Change    /    ESG   /   Business Ethics
Image by Ravi Roshan
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