Resources to Support Your “Soft” Skills Development
Solid technical skills are obviously a prerequisite in terms of getting a job interview and even progressing from one role to the next throughout your career, but “soft” skills are becoming an increasingly important criterion for determining which candidate actually lands the job and what advancement opportunities will be available.
Technical, or “hard”, skills revolve around having the knowledge and ability to perform a particular task or responsibility and are typically relatively easy to observe, quantify, and measure. For the investment professional, obtaining the CFA charter is a clear demonstration of this technical competency. Soft skills, on the other hand, can be more difficult to quantify — but, at the end of the day, they are what set you apart from your peers. In general, soft skills are “people skills” (i.e., how you work with, communicate, influence, negotiate, lead, manage others, etc.) and can be used interchangeably with the term “emotional intelligence” or EQ.
If you need more convincing that soft skills are becoming increasingly important in today’s work force, or you’d like to convince your management team of the importance of training in this area, I’ve listed a few resources below. (Full-text versions of these and other articles are available to CFA Institute members via EBSCO.)
- “Why You Didn’t Get That Promotion” from Harvard Business Review
- “Time to Firm up Those Soft Skills” from Training Journal
- “Key Personal Skills of the Finance Director” from Accountancy Ireland
At CFA Institute, we believe investment professionals need solid skill sets in both the hard and soft areas in order to succeed in this industry, and we’ve designed the topical area of Leadership, Management, and Communication Skills (LMCS) to specifically address soft skills development.
To assist you in the quest to enhance your soft skills, I have curated a number of LMCS-relevant book summaries by getAbstract. These currently cover topics including leadership, mentoring, management, communication, and client-relationship skills, and my goal is to expand this list as new titles are added to ensure broad coverage across the LMCS topical area.
The Emotionally Intelligent Financial Advisor
- Product knowledge and financial acumen are not enough. As a financial adviser, you also need emotional intelligence.
- Emotionally intelligent financial advisers (EIFAs) learn to manage their emotions.
- Becoming more emotionally intelligent (EI) means gaining greater awareness of your emotional tendencies and reactions.
- Be aware of any negative “self-talk” that comes to you automatically, implying that you’re less than fully capable. Learn to counter it with positive messages.
- As you gain in EI, you will begin to understand how best to motivate yourself.
- You will gain interpersonal expertise and learn how to manage others’ emotions.
- Avoid bad mental habits, such as handing destructive labels on those who irritate you.
- EIFAs give criticism in a productive and sensitive manner.
- Learn how to prepare yourself emotionally, so you are ready to bounce back when the inevitable setbacks come your way.
- Each day, identify your successes, and count them. Monitor your progress diligently.
Relevance/what you will learn:
- How to develop higher emotional intelligence.
- How to apply it to your work as a financial adviser.
- How to become more aware of destructive thought patterns and behaviors.
- How to manage your emotions and reactions.
- How to motivate yourself.
- The Total Leadership method strengthens your performance in four domains: work, home, community, and self (mind, body, and spirit).
- Total Leadership is a planned program for bringing about quantifiable change.
- It explains how to increase your leadership capacity by being real, whole, and innovative.
- “Acting with authenticity” requires knowing your values, goals, hopes, and wants.
- Investigate and analyze the relative importance of the four domains of your life. Discover if the areas in which you devote time and energy align with your values.
- Define your “leadership vision” as an inspiring strategy for a realizable future and learn how to convey it to others in a way that produces greater trust.
- Identify the people who matter most to you and who have a stake in your success; your personal stakeholders, in all the domains of your life.
- Initiate meaningful dialogues with them to explore your mutual expectations.
- Conduct experiments that take you through “planned changes designed to improve performance in all four spheres — four-way wins.”
- Reflect on your Total Leadership experience, synthesize what you’ve learned, and share your knowledge with other people.
Relevance/what you will learn:
- How to take a holistic approach to leadership by improving your performance in the four life domains: work, home, community, and self.
- How to make authenticity, integrity, and creativity the foundation of your actions as a leader.
- How to use the Total Leadership program and its exercises.
Mentoring in Action
- To develop their full potential, organizations need a “pro-mentoring culture.”
- To begin a mentoring program, you must have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish.
- Decide which metrics you’ll use to evaluate the program’s success.
- Select the people to be mentored (mentees) carefully. Learning from a mentor requires certain skills, and not everyone qualifies.
- Don’t assume mentors have all the skills they need either. Provide formal training.
- Make sure mentors and those that they are mentoring have a good rapport.
- Teach mentors to take advantage of “mentoring moments,” when they can make a major contribution to the other person’s development.
- View mentoring as an extended “learning conversation.”
- At some point, the mentor must conduct a “final check,” indicating that the protégé has developed sufficiently to operate independently.
- Your organization’s culture will determine whether your mentoring program succeeds.
Relevance/what you will learn:
- What key elements a mentoring program needs.
- Which pitfalls to avoid.
- What mentors and their protégés can learn from case studies.
I hope you enjoy these getAbstract summaries, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions for additions to the evolving list.