Here's a post I come back to every few months: Seth Godin, Let's stop calling them 'soft skills', It's Your Turn (2017-01-31).
But we give too little respect to the other skills when we call them “soft” and imply that they’re optional.
It turns out that what actually separates thriving organizations from struggling ones are the difficult-to-measure attitudes, processes and perceptions of the people who do the work.
Culture defeats strategy, every time.
Emotional intelligence. Sure. OK. I get it (in that I understand it's an important behavior) although I don't really get it (I wish my amygdala had a stickier trigger).
There was a part on this year's performance evaluation at work under behaviors: Honesty and Communication. I believe the verbal explanation for my score on this one was, roughly: "Well, you're definitely honest." Do not file under: Compliments.
I suppose I'd like to believe that I'm just carrying water for Ray Dalio and his radical transparency, but maybe it's not the best thing to do. Maybe it's a blurry line between being honest and being an asshole, but honestly it's not that blurry. And without strong performance to soothe the burn, there's no line at all—you know where you stand.
There's a book I read last year to help work on this, On Emotional Intelligence, a collection of ten Harvard Business Review articles related to emotional intelligence. I guess I could use another dose. I'm not going to pick up the book again, but rather just scrape the individual articles somewhere:
- Daniel Goleman, What Makes a Leader? (1998-11) (pdf) (notes)
- Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance (2001-12) (pdf) (notes)
- Joel Brockner, Why It’s So Hard to Be Fair (2006-03) (pdf?) (notes)
- Andrew Campbell, Jo Whitehead, and Sydney Finkelstein, Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions (2009-02) (pdf) (notes)
- Vanessa Urch Druskat and Stephen B. Wolff, Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups (2001-03) (pdf) (notes)
- Christine Porath and Christine Pearson, The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale—and the Bottom Line (2013-01) (pdf) (notes)
- Diane L. Coutu, How Resilience Works (2002-05) (pdf) (notes)
- Susan David, and Christina Congleton, Emotional Agility: How Effective Leaders Manage Their Negative Thoughts and Feelings (2013-11) (pdf) (notes)
- Jay M. Jackman, and Myra H. Strobe, Fear of Feedback (2003-04) (pdf) (notes)
- Kerry A. Bunker, Kathy E. Kram, and Sharon Ting, The Young and the Clueless (2002-12) (pdf) (notes)
Postscript. I've had this song in my head all day. I couldn't identify it, just that I knew it was from long enough ago. Then it just hit me now: Jawbreaker, "Save Your Generation". With these lines, I guess it fit the theme even though I didn't know it:
You have to learn to learn from your mistakes.
You can afford to lose a little face.
The things you break,
Some can't be replaced.
A simple rule: every day be sure you wake.