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Life skills versus Technical skills

December 23, 2011

The two types of skills you need to build a high performance business

In my last post I introduced you to the Skill Development model, which highlights those key skill factors that produce high performers.  Today I want to share with you an important rule of high performance as it relates to skills and people.  And, I want to highlight the two types of skills you need to build a high performance business or team – or to become a high performance individual.

First of all, it is important for you to recognize that a high performance business or team is built upon a collection of skill sets or knowhow.  This knowhow may be employed in-house or can be obtained via outsourcing, forming strategic partnerships and so on.  Putting aside the actual ways in which you go about acquiring skills and knowhow, the general rule is this:

The better the skills you can obtain and use, the more successful your business or team will perform

In the last decade or so, many high performance businesses have cottoned onto this rule quite well.  Which is why now, in the business world, the practice of talent identification and recruitment has evolved to where executive and recruitment bears a remarkable resemblance to what takes place in professional sports recruitment. Let me explain.

In professional sports recruitment teams have talent scouts who go out and look for people with the right know-how and talent.  Then, once they’ve found the talent they want they will schmooze and entice them with all sorts of incentives including sign on bonuses, a healthy pay packet and a bunch of other goodies like free cars, houses etc.

Actually, this practice even extends to high school level where junior sports stars – some as young as 12 years of age – are identified by scouts and then offered sports scholarships and other incentives to align themselves to certain schools or clubs.

Anyway, in the business world high performance businesses often identify talented future employees while they’re still at university and are soon to graduate.  Then they offer the best talent the same sorts of goodies a sports star would get when signing up for a particular sports team.

One of the other trends that has developed in recent years has been practice of  businesses hiring well-rounded individuals.  That is, smart businesses hire those who have the right balance of technical skills and life skills.  What’s the difference between the two?

Technical skills – sometimes referred to as hard skills – are those skills you need to complete a functional task.  So, in accounting for example a technical skill is the ability to prepare a balance sheet and profit and loss statement.  Or, in marketing a technical skill is the ability to create an advertisement.

So what are life skills and why are they important? According to UNESCO, “Life skills are a group of cognitive, personal and interpersonal abilities that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathize with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner.” (Source: UNESCO website).

In reality. there’s still some confusion in the business world as what life skills really are.  This is mainly due to the overlap in definition of concepts such as soft skills, life skills, emotional intelligence (EI) and successful intelligence.  And I prefer to call them the high performance skills.

Anyway, other life skills are teamwork, the ability to perform under pressure, the ability to get on well with others, teach ability and communication skills.

High performance businesses recognize that it’s not good enough to have the best, technically equipped accountant, marketing manager or administration officer.  For example, there’s no point in hiring a technically competent admin officer who also happens to be a right royal pain in the ass with a lousy attitude.

Life skills are just as important as the technical skills.  Which is why the recruitment practices within high performance businesses are based upon hiring candidates with strong technical and life skills.  These are the true, high performance individuals.

As more businesses place an emphasis on life skills, there is less of a place for the prima donna or problem child.  This is the individual who may have all the technical talent in the world, yet lack the required soft skills or emotional intelligence.

At the end of the day, to build and develop a high performance business you need people who rank highly in both technical skills and life skills.

If you’re at the top of the tree high performance individuals will help you to stay there.  And if you’re at the bottom of the tree, high performance individuals will help you to climb higher.


From → Life Skills

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  1. Soft Skills Of A Good Manager - Rombiz Co

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