Soft Skills aren’t ‘Soft’

by SJ Barakony

“Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” … and …. soft skills are the breakfast of  winners!

Did that subtitled quote ( thank YOU to the late Peter Drucker ) catch your eye?!


(It was meant to do just that, dear readers.)

We now dive into a deep pool …

In truth, an entire online library could conceivably be dedicated to nothing but them!

Thought leaders all across the globe, including many in your LinkedIn network, have spoken of their past experiences, spun stories, & shared wisdom nuggets through books, webinars, podcasts, & even created whole curricula focusing on these immensely valuable skills.

So, we’re just skimming the surface: Becoming self educated, role modeling a better ‘You, Inc.’ to your staff, clientele, & fellow entrepreneurs & revisiting your business culture would each be forward thinking outcomes.

Foundational Definitions

Soft Skills :  

Please click herehere.

You might already be asking …  Are these the same as people … interpersonal … or life skills?      Yes.

Culture :

Excellent articles

12 … & … 3

Let’s now briefly discuss the inexorable connection between culture & soft skills in your business(es).

Are soft skills a necessary part of a vibrant entrepreneurial [workplace], culture?

A great number of signs point to a clear, resounding ‘yes’, since these skills are so often not taught in classrooms in all ‘tracks’ ( K-12, up to & including graduate level studies )

An entrepreneur is likely to become a magnet to others if she offers them as part of ongoing professional development for her staff, regardless of industry. If you’re dealing with confounding challenges that coaching or some other service pro hasn’t yet solved, or, maybe you just seek to expand, laser focus here;  you are onto something BIG.

What do others say?

Here’s a post well worth reading …

And this author comes to a like conclusion.

A personal story & opportunity to serve

My own entrepreneurial journey wouldn’t be nearly as rich without the visceral impact of these skills on my own ventures.

Through the fall of last year, I had the high honor of being a member of a nationwide committee

And, for that same organization, I was asked to be a co-panelist on this webinar.

If you’re offered anything similar, what’s commonly known as an influencer, as I was, please, I implore you: take it!

Our discourse at networking events, in business dealings with peers, levels of customer service, engagement & satisfaction amongst your staff, decreased turnover:

I truly believe all would benefit positively.

A Sampling of @Twitter Thoughts [from across the ‘Twitterverse’]

Future Learn

Vala Afshar

Scott Hartley

What soft skills should I focus on to improve my business’ culture?   

The answers will vary considerably from venture to venture, industry to industry. After all, this field is not barren; it is richly blossoming in content of all kinds which you can surely beta test, or go all in & fully invest your development dollars from the get-go.

Should I hire, fire, outsource, and/or promote with these skills as the key determinant?


You can always get someone up to speed on ‘harder’ (read: technical) skills if you have an individual who understands how to prioritize ( time management ); whom has a good attitude;  who can work on any team and contribute; who knows how to resolve a conflict; and whom can build her leadership abilities through influence, vision, & service rather than expecting others to follow a title, or positional authority.

What’s the best way to deliver them?    

This, too, is flexible.

In a hyper competitive industry (e.g., real estate, insurance, financial services, banking), encouraging your staff, & leaving room in your own day for lifelong learning would be smart. Many of these professions already require ‘CE’ , however, incentivizing ongoing development of soft skills through ‘comp time’, bonuses, etc., will offer you a clear edge. Everyone else is aware of the former, while you also recognize the latter = difference maker.

Finding ways to collaborate with a services professional who offers group facilitation, mentorship, business coaching, or a consultant with focused training program would be a clear win:win.

Next steps:

Take action!  The Gig (Sharing/P2P) Economy moves infinitely faster than its predecessor eras. And, expecting that the conventional schooling institutions will begin to offer these skills so you won’t have to invest wouldn’t be advisable.

Learn more. If this post & the related links doesn’t yet convince you of their importance, attend a conference, lunch & learn, register for a webinar, or listen to a podcast that discusses professional development.

In short …

  • Soft skills should be taken very seriously
  • Culture is a foundational necessity.
  • If offered an opportunity to spread the word about soft skills, accept it with a smile
  • Fundamental challenges ( i.e., turnover, satisfaction, engagement ) can be solved at the root
  • Reconsider your standards for hiring, firing, and promoting staff.
  • Delivering soft skills into your culture can be done in numerous ways
  • Don’t stand still


Thank YOU for reading!

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4 Replies to “Soft Skills aren’t ‘Soft’”

  1. Kim

    Great advice, SJ! I really like that you’ve linked to multiple sources to check out, and I also enjoyed the sum-up list at the end. Very nice!

    1. SJ

      Thank Y-O-U, Kim!

      Honored to see & then read your thoughtful feedback this eve!

      Much appreciated.

      I’m a big advocate of cross referencing sources, since there are numerous other innovators and early adopters out there that see the same exact things, yet they — a) often don’t know of one another , and/or b) come at the root issues from differing angles.

  2. Jim Davidson

    I’m curious about your thoughts on mindfulness vs “mind-less”-ness. For example, meditation books on mindfulness like this one ( are popular but increasingly I am seeing people talk about not filling the mind with anything while meditating, do you have recommendations that you can share to better learn how to meditate?

    1. SJ Barakony[ Post Author ]

      Great eve!

      Thank you for your rich feedback, sir.

      The best way I can think to answer your Q is to pull in one of my very best connections in my (thankfully ever growing) network:

      Mr. Alvarez is a thought leader in this space & I heartily encourage you to reach out his way. Please feel welcome to mention my name when you do – as we are great friends to boot.

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