Soft skills, such as networking, empathy, effort, commitment, etc., are critical for leaders to have in their toolbox. As I had mentioned before many times in class, Dale Carnegie is literally the grandfather of soft skills that leaders need via his book “How to win friends and influence people.” In is post below, Mr. Mike has 50 soft skill nuggets from Mr. Carnegie for us to explore for our toolbox. Perhaps 3 or 5 of these will hit home now and save the list to review again in the future.
Mr. Mike, the floor is yours…
Great leaders are continuous learners and it is always a gift to them to find a collection cove that captures the essence of volumes of learning in a few crisp bullets. Dale Carnegie, internationally renowned self-improvement author and lecturer did this for them in his article, Fifty Habits of Highly Successful People. He said: “I figured that maybe I could take the important lessons from every self-help book I’ve read and every life experience I’ve endured, condense all that into fifty key points and save everybody a whole bunch of reading time… my gift to mankind.”
While the length of the list may appear formidable, I am confident that you will find the richness of Carnegie’s thoughts well worth the time investment. I have taken the opportunity to group them (you may see the groupings differently) for ease of understanding. The following are the fifty key points.
They look for and find opportunities where others see nothing.
They find a lesson while others only see a problem.
They consciously and methodically create their own success, while others hope success will find them.
They are fearful like everyone else, but they are not controlled or limited by fear.
They rarely complain (waste of energy). All complaining does is put the complainer in a negative and unproductive state.
They don’t blame (what’s the point?). They take complete responsibility for their actions and outcomes (or lack thereof).
They are more effective than most at managing their emotions. They feel like we all do but they are not slaves to their emotions.
While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.
They are generous and kind. They take pleasure in helping others achieve.
They don’t rationalize failure. While many are talking about their age, their sore back, their lack of time, their poor genetics, their ‘bad luck’, their nasty boss and their lack of opportunities (all good reasons to fail), they are finding a way to succeed despite all their challenges.
They are solution focused.
They ask the right questions – the ones which put them in a productive, creative, positive mindset and emotional state.
While they are not necessarily more talented than the majority, they always find a way to maximize their potential. They get more out of themselves. They use what they have more effectively.
They are glass half full people – while still being practical and down-to-earth. They have an ability to find the good.
They innovate rather than imitate.
They are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.
They are busy, productive and proactive. While most are laying on the couch, planning, over-thinking, sitting on their hands and generally going around in circles, they are out there getting the job done.
They are ambitious; they want amazing – and why shouldn’t they? They consciously choose to live their best life rather than spending it on auto-pilot.
They have a big engine. They work hard and are not lazy.
They are resilient. When most would throw in the towel, they’re just warming up.
They are more interested in effective than they are in easy. While the majority look for the quickest, easiest way (the shortcut), they look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.
They finish what they start. While so many spend their life starting things that they never finish, successful people get the job done – even when the excitement and the novelty have worn off. Even when it ain’t fun.
Their desire to be exceptional means that they typically do things that most won’t. They become exceptional by choice. We’re all faced with live-shaping decisions almost daily. Successful people make the decisions that most won’t and don’t.
They set higher standards for themselves (a choice we can all make), which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.
They are life-long learners. They constantly work at educating themselves, either formally (academically), informally (watching, listening, asking, reading, student of life) or experientially (doing, trying)… or all three.
They deal with problems and challenges quickly and effectively, they don’t put their head in the sand. They face their challenges and use them to improve themselves.
They are good communicators and they consciously work at it.
They consistently do what they need to do, irrespective of how they are feeling on a given day. They don’t spend their life stopping and starting.
They have clarity and certainty about what they want (and don’t want) for their life. They actually visualize and plan their best reality while others are merely spectators of life.
They don’t procrastinate and they don’t spend their life waiting for the ‘right time’.
They take calculated risks – financial, emotional, professional, psychological.
They don’t believe in, or wait for fate, destiny, chance or luck to determine or shape their future. They believe in, and are committed to actively and consciously creating their own best life.
While many people are reactive, they are proactive. They take action before they have to.
They have a plan for their life and they work methodically at turning that plan into a reality. Their life is not a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes.
They don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.
They have identified their core values (what is important to them) and they do their best to live a life which is reflective of those values.
They understand the importance of discipline and self-control. They are strong. They are happy to take the road less travelled.
They are secure. They do not derive their sense of worth of self from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.
They keep themselves in shape physically, not to be mistaken with training for the Olympics or being obsessed with their body. They understand the importance of being physically well. They are not all about looks, they are more concerned with function and health. Their body is not who they are, it’s where they live.
They have an off switch. They know how to relax, enjoy what they have in their life and to have fun.
Their career is not their identity, it’s their job. It’s not who they are, it’s what they do.
They are multi-dimensional, amazing, wonderful complex creatures (as we all are). They realize that not only are they physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. They consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.
They practice what they preach. They don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.
They have balance. While they may be financially successful, they know that the terms money and success are not interchangeable. They understand that people who are successful on a financial level only, are not successful at all. Unfortunately we live in a society which teaches that money equals success. Like many other things, money is a tool. It’s certainly not a bad thing but ultimately, it’s just another resource. Unfortunately, too many people worship it.
They are humble and they are happy to admit mistakes and to apologize. They are confident in their ability, but not arrogant. They are happy to learn from others. They are happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.
They are happy to swim against the tide, to do what most won’t. They are not people pleasers and they don’t need constant approval.
They are more comfortable with their own company than most.
They align themselves with like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team. They create win-win relationships
With a comprehensive list like this great leaders will ask themselves three significant questions: Which ones have I mastered? Which ones remain to be mastered? Which ones remain unseen that I must find to take me to even great heights? The great leaders’ journey of continuous growth and development is a joyous, unending one. Let them remember the words of a Chinese proverb: “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” As Aristotle wrote: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Have a beautiful day and a fantastic week!!!
Michael M. Reuter
Director, Center for Leadership Development
Stillman School of Business
Seton Hall University