Yesterday I was asked are entrepreneurs born or made?

This question is based on the notion that soft skills cannot be taught.

Along the way, we have confirmed that technical skills can be taught (you are not born knowing engineering or copywriting or even graphic design, therefore they must be something we can teach), while we let ourselves off the hook when it comes to decision making, caring, trust, patience, eager participation, dancing with fear, speaking with authority, working in teams, seeing the truth, speaking the truth, inspiring others, doing more than we are asked, caring and being willing to change things.

We underinvest in this training, fearful that these things are innate and cannot be taught.

We call these skills soft, making it easy for us to move on to something seemingly more urgent.

Interview questions don’t rarely have ratings for soft skills.

We rarely hire people for these attributes because we have persuaded ourselves that technical skills are impersonal and easier to measure.

And we fire slowly (and retrain rarely) when these skills are missing, because we are worried about stepping on toes, being called out for getting personal, or possibly, wasting time on a lost cause.

Which is crazy, because infants aren’t good at any of the soft skills. Of course we learn them. We learn them accidentally, by osmosis, by the collisions we have with teachers, parents, bosses and the world. But just because they’re difficult to measure doesn’t mean we can’t improve them, can’t practice them, can’t change.

Of course we can.

Let’s call them real skills, not soft.

Yes, they are interpersonal skills. Leadership skills. The skills of charisma and diligence and contribution. But these modifiers, while accurate, somehow edge them away from the technical skills, the skills that we actually hire for, the skills we measure a graduate degree on.

So let’s uncomfortably call them real skills instead.

Real because they work, because they are at the heart of what we need to today.

Real because even if you have got the technical skills, you are no help to us without these human skills, the things that we cannot write down, or program a computer to do.

Real skills cannot replace technical skills, of course not. What they can do is amplify the things you have already been measuring.

Imagine a team member with all the traditional technical skills: productive, skilled, experienced. A CV that can prove it.

That’s fine, it’s the foundation, the baseline.

Now, add to that: Perceptive, charismatic, driven, focused, goal-setting, inspiring and motivated. A deep listener, with patience.

What happens to your business when someone like that joins your team?

PS: Entrepreneurs are made.

One thought on “Soft Skills: Let’s call them Real Skills

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