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Five Skillsets that Transition Your Job into a Career

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member Martin Armstrong, Vice President of Payroll Shared Services for Charter Communications.

From the very beginning of my professional career, I've been intellectually curious about successful people. What makes them successful? What skills do they have that set them apart from the pack? What qualities do they possess - or possess more of - than other, less successful people?

From 2000 to 2012, I researched critical skillsets of successful leaders, and compared those skillsets against common characteristics that I identified from interviewing CEOs, business executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders of nonprofit organizations.   

Over a period of time, five skillsets consistently emerged as critical in enabling successful leaders to transition their jobs, which were merely paid positions that afforded them with regular employment, into significant careers that have stood the test of time, technology, innovation, and agility.  

These 5 skillsets are: Communication, Competency, Embracing Technology, Emotional Intelligence, and Financial Acumen. I refer to these skillsets as “2 Cs, 2 Es, and 1 F”, and can personally attest to the fact that I would not be an executive for a Fortune 100 company without them. 

So, without further ado, here they are:

  1. Communication - It's hard to imagine anyone having a successful career without the ability to effectively communicate. Communication is a Latin word that means “to share”. Whether your communication is written, verbal, or social media-driven, communication is the key to informing, soliciting, deciding, persuading, influencing, motivating, and inspiring others. In short: it's the key to almost everything.
  2. Competency - If you want to remain relevant in your chosen field, you must be able to demonstrate the ability to perform your job at the highest possible level. Competency also includes your knowledge of business skills - you should be able to think and act strategically, and your actions should help drive performance that equals results. Leadership skills are also a necessary competency to make optimal decisions and manage change, particularly in a competitive and ever-changing environment. The combination of Competency, Business Skills, and Leadership Skills is a Competency Framework that describes the performance excellence that successful people exhibit on a consistent basis.
  3. Embracing Technology - When you embrace technology, you accept and support technological advancement. If you choose to reject technology, you will surely be left behind. Technology's impact on innovation and business processes is undeniable and the empirical research regarding the adoption of technological advances is staggering. The Internet of Things (IoT), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Bots are not just acronyms, but types of automation that are used in every industry and nearly every cross functional job that involves repetitive actions. Embracing technology will allow you to work smarter and not harder.
  4. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - In 1995, internationally known psychologist Daniel Goleman authored a book called Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”. Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as the ability to identify, assess, and control one's own emotions, the emotions of others, and that of groups. Goleman's 5 Pillars of Emotional Intelligence include: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and People Skills.  Dr. Travis Bradberry runs an Emotional Intelligence Lab called TalentSmart and is the author of an award-winning book called “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”. Bradberry's research suggests that 90% of top performers have a high EQ, 58% of your job performance is attributable to your EQ, and people with a high EQ make $29,000 more annually than their low EQ counterparts.  Successful people practice emotional intelligence strategies until they become a habit, and their long, sustaining careers are a direct beneficiary of such efforts.
  5. Financial Acumen - You most certainly do not have to become a CPA to possess financial acumen, but you should understand how your actions contribute to the financial statements of your organization. Having financial acumen involves a basic understanding of four financial statements: the Income Statement (a statement of income less expenses = net income), Retained Earnings Statement (the amount of net income left after paying dividends), the Balance Sheet (reports a company's assets, liabilities, and shareholder's equity), and the Cash Flow Statement (shows cash inflows and outflows from operations, investments, and financing).  As individuals, we know how to manage our monthly household budgets (Income Statement), save for a rainy day (Retained Earnings), understand what assets we own and who we owe (Balance Sheet), and what sources we receive and spend cash from (Cash Flow). We simply need to translate this understanding onto financial statements using financial terms. Successful people understand the importance of financial acumen as it is essential to execute a strategic plan, and to impact a company's growth and profitability.

Applying these five skillsets will take practice, commitment, and a level of effort that should outweigh any barriers that would prevent you from reaching your maximum potential. If nothing else, always remember that if you do not control your own destiny, someone else will. Should you bring this all together, you too will say that you have transitioned your job into a career. 

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