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Climbing the Corporate Web

But isn't this ironic. The inclusive, networking skills that are at such a premium in companies like Google are D team skills in the old business world. Known there as "soft skills" (i.e., less effective), these organic, relational ways of working are seen as feminine and therefore, weak, indecisive, people-pleasing, time-consuming, and manipulative. Yes, even as mega-companies like eBay (run by a woman), Starbucks, Apple, and Google have redefined "soft" skills as essential.

If you've been told you have "soft" skills that you need upgrade to "hard" - maybe a bent toward process, team work, conversation, listening, empowering, empathizing, and networking - you'd better get a second opinion. And if you've been told that you can't be both "soft" and "hard" -

relational and decisive, nurturing and authoritative, collaborative and visionary, take-input and take-charge - take a second look at the leaders you admire most. You'll find that they are incredibly "take-charge" and authoritative about purpose. They never negotiate identity. In fact, their highest leadership calling is to remind people of who they are, because people and organizations constantly forget. But they are also adamantly organic about strategy. Because they are consistent and clear about purpose, these five-star influencers are able to let go of the reins of control and involve peoples' passions and gifts in the strategy.

You have essential leadership skills. Do whatever it takes to use them. Even if that means applying at Google.

February01, 2007 at 9:52 PM

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