12 Skills Every Professional Needs to Succeed in the Modern Workplace
This week, we share the first of a two-part series on skills needed
to succeed in the modern workplace.
PART I: Skills 1 through 6
The modern workplace isn’t a single physical place in most organizations. The modern workplace is a realm, a culture. It often comprises people working from multiple locations in different cities, states, time zones, and even countries. Some may be full-time employees working from a traditional office. Others are contractors working at a different employer. Since COVID-19, more and more people are working from home. Co-workers can spend years with each other without physically meeting, only communicating electronically.
The chaos of the modern workplace has added to the stress of working under the pressure to produce results in a world of uncertainty. Some professionals struggle to grow and move up in the modern workplace. The ones that succeed typically exhibit the following skills:
1. Adaptability The modern workplace changes as often as the weather in the Midwest – and for non-Midwesterners that means a lot. Businesses are bought and sold every day. Products come and go. The marketplace evolves. Organizational charts are rewritten. Budgets are slashed. There are always new rules, new technology and new trends to learn. In the post-COVID-19 workplace, change also includes more remote work, more video conferences, and less structure. Adaptability is highly sought after by employers because it makes people better employees and leaders, more productive, and more likely to remain with the company long-term.
2. Empathy The modern workplace includes employees of varying ages, education levels, backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures. You are often interacting with people from different countries. Co-workers have distinct lives outside of work and diverse motivations at work. This can sometimes lead to workplace conflict. But conflict is minimized when people can understand and relate to the thoughts, emotions and experiences of others without judgment. This is empathy. Empathetic people have a positive effect on overall company morale.
3. Communication The modern workplace depends on the free flow of ideas, information, and instruction. This has always been true, but is even more so in a workplace altered by global economics, generational preferences and, of course, a pandemic. The teams you work with are no longer confined to the same floor of the same building. Successful professionals regularly connect with co-workers about everything from ongoing projects to new opportunities and external threats. They must possess the ability to communicate through face-to-face conversations, large group meetings, emails, instant messaging, phone calls, project management software, and impromptu discussions. They must also find the right balance between communicating too little and over-communicating. Don’t forget that proper communication isn’t limited to what you say or write. It’s just as important to listen to customers and co-workers.
4. Curiosity The modern workplace requires employees to ask questions and search for answers. If you wait for others to voluntarily communicate the information and instruction required to succeed, you will fall behind. If you proactively discover the keys to job success, you’ll become indispensable. Employees who exhibit curiosity in the workplace are more likely to succeed because they generate alternative solutions to existing problems, they innovate ways for the company to make money or save it, and they discover ways to add value beyond their job descriptions.
5. Data Interpretation The modern workplace is teeming with data. Companies harvest up-to- the-minute intelligence on their customers, distributors, website traffic, order volume, employee performance, and a host of other factors. Data directs much of the decision-making. What products to sell and where to sell them and to who? How much to budget for marketing, distribution, customer support, and employee recruitment? Where to invest and divest? Successful professionals can collect, analyze and comprehend all sorts of data. They can spot patterns, identify what’s relevant and what isn’t, and report the meaning of the data collected to others.
6. Intuition Data doesn’t always tell the full story. To fill the gaps left by incomplete or inaccurate data, successful professionals must rely on intuition – often called a “gut feeling.” But true intuition is not an emotion. It’s a confident wisdom a person gleans over time from knowledge and experience, from the lessons learned from successes and failures. Professionals can develop intuition by listening to experts in their field, constant reading, and focused observation of the world that impacts their business.
Next week, we will present Part II of our series . . . Skills 7 through 12.
Source: Article by Jack Wolstenholm, Director of Content at Breeze, a digital-first insurance
company that offers simple, affordable income protection for the modern workforce; published by SkillsYouNeed.com.
September 26, 2022
“The Power of Potential”
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Much of our life’s journey is dedicated to making use of this unexpressed possibility. If we choose to ignore the demands of our potential, we are referred to as an underachiever, breaking the unspoken law of achievement.
Parents want their children to possess and achieve their deepest potential. Teachers speak of students as “possessing so much potential.” Leaders search for the employee/team member with the greatest potential for success. Each of us is said to possess potential. So, what is this nebulous “quality” that is naturally mourned when not “lived up to?”
“Potential is the instinctive understanding that life is a gift and each person living his or her life is experiencing a one-time, unrepeatable event, never to take place in the history of the universe again.” Like the universe, we are either in a state of expansion or contraction at any given time. In order to achieve our fullest potential, we have to be willing to expand our actions beyond our present state of comfort. As the old saying goes, “If you always do what you did, you will always get what you got.” It is our willingness to do things that are unknown and unfamiliar that we experience a new side of ourselves.
Start living the power of potential by expanding your self-expectations and be willing to step outside of what is comfortable in order to experience what is possible.
Source: “The Law of Achievement: Discover Your Purpose, Possibility and Potential” by Kathleen Gage and Lori Giovannoni, Maxwell Publishing, Draper, Utah 2006.
September 19, 2022
“Avoid the False Alliance”
No one can get far in life without allies. The trick, however, is to recognize the difference between false allies and real ones. A false alliance is created out of an immediate emotional need. It requires that you give up something essential about yourself and makes it impossible for you to make your own decisions. A true alliance is formed out of mutual self-interest, each side supplying what the other cannot get alone. It does not require you to fuse your own identity with that of a group or pay attention to everyone else’s emotional needs. It allows you autonomy (and it supports your autonomy).
Daily Law: Cultivate real allies (advocates). Find those with mutual self-interests and make an alliance.
Source: Excerpt from “The Daily Laws” by Robert Greene.
September 12, 2022
“Change Yourself from within, Little by Little”
We humans tend to fixate on what we can see with our eyes. It is the most animal part of our nature. When we look at the changes in other people’s lives, we see the good luck that someone had in meeting a person with all of the right connections and the funding. We see the project that brings the money and the attention. In other words, we see the visible signs of opportunity and success in our own lives, but we are grasping at the illusion. What really allows for such dramatic changes are the things that occur inside a person. The slow accumulation of knowledge and skills, the incremental improvements in work habits and the ability to withstand criticism.
Any change in people’s fortunes is merely the visible manifestation of all of that deep preparation over time. By essentially ignoring this internal invisible aspect, we fail to change anything fundamental within ourselves. And so in a few years’ time we reach our limits. Yet again we grow frustrated, we crave change, we grab at something quick and superficial and we remain prisoners forever of those recurring patterns in our lives.
The answer is to reverse this perspective: Stop fixating on what other people are saying and doing. Stop fixating on the money, the connections, and the outward appearance of things. Instead, look inward, focus on the smaller internal changes that lay the groundwork for a much larger change in fortune. It is the difference between grasping at an illusion and immersing yourself in reality. And reality is what will liberate and transform you.
Daily Law: What would you work on if no one was looking?
Source: Excerpt from “ The Daily Laws” by Robert Greene.
“The Choice is Yours”
~ John Maxwell
This week, we would like to share an inspirational thought and then a challenge from a very small book by John Maxwell, entitled The Choice is Yours . In the introduction, Maxwell says, “Nobody desires to take the path that leads downward. Each of us aspires to be something more, something bigger. The secret to the uphill path comes in the individual choices we make.”
Let’s begin with the quote:
“There is no use whatever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.”
~ Andrew Carnegie
Now the challenge. How to develop commitment:
- Realize it usually begins with a struggle;
- Understand that it has nothing to do with talent or ability;
- Recognize that it’s not a matter of conditions but of choice;
- Start with the little things;
- Settle moral issues before you’re confronted;
- Trust in God.
Source: “The Choice is Yours: Today’s Decisions for the Rest of Your Life, by John C. Maxwell, published by the J. Countryman division of the Thomas Nelson Book Group, Nashville, TN 37214.
“Do We Still Need a Movement for Women’s Rights?”
~ Cheryl Benton
At the IR’s Institute hosted by Madonna University on October 28,
2016, each attendee received a book entitled Leading Women: 20
Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and
Life, by Nancy D. O’Reilly, a clinical psychologist,
motivational speaker, and women-empowerment expert.
As I browsed through the book, I was drawn to the entry by Cheryl Benton, founder and publisher of The Three Tomatoes (a book publishing company), I was captured by the leading sentence, “Call it what you want, but let’s not let labels like feminism keep us from focusing on the issues and working together to create a world where women and girls are truly equal – that is a world that will be a much different and better place”
Cheryl raises the question: “Do We Still Need a Movement for Women’s Rights?” Here is an excerpt from her response to the question.
“Unequivocally, yes, we do need a women’s rights movement. Let us go back to the CBS poll and one of its findings that really disturbed me. Women were equally divided on whether there is still a need for a strong women’s movement. In addition, 45 percent believe that most of the goals of the women’s movement have been met.
“If that’s the case, are the goals of the women’s movement met when women in the country still earn only 77 percent of what men earn? Is it acceptable that women make up just 16.6 percent of corporate board officers at Fortune 500 companies? That when it comes to women’s representation in government, internationally, the United States ranks 71st? Is it acceptable that our Congress debated through two decades before finally passing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in February 2013? Or that the United State is one of seven nations (others include Somalia, Iran, and Sudan) who have yet to ratify the United Nations’ women’s right treaty?
“While most of us agree that our lives as women in this country are better because of the women’s movement, it is not just all about us.” There are some startling examples of what happens to women and girls in other countries as outlined in the United Nations’ gender equity statistics, but I wanted to keep this entry from moving into the darker side of the issue. Cheryl continues to say . . . .
“Let us also remember that women’s issues are men’s issues. We cannot
have women’s rights without men, so excluding them from our movement
will never achieve equality. It is time to forget the labels that
divide us, and focus on the end game – a world where women have
equal opportunities and rights and live in a world free from violence
and oppression. All this being true, what are some of the things that
each of us could do today to make this goal a reality? Here
are three ideas:
Become more aware of legislation and how it affects women, for
better or worse.
Understand the issues and make your voice heard, especially by your elected representatives.
Use your personal influence and power in your own sphere to champion women and girls in your company, your profession, and your community. Women need to help other women.
Think globally. While we have the luxury in this country of debating the issues on equal pay for women, and getting more women in the C-suite and into high-level political offices, there are women in many parts of the world who have few if any rights, and live under oppressive conditions that most of us cannot even imagine.”
So, yes, there is still work to be done. We will share moves from
in the next
Source: Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life, by Nancy D. O’Reilly. Listen to Nancy D. O’Reilly’s Podcasts at WomenSpeak.com
Your Summer Reading List
Congratulations and kudos to the MI-ACE Women’s Network for putting together an amazing 2022 Annual Conference, held this past week at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI. A special thank you to our Host Institution, the College for Creative Studies; our Platinum Sponsoring Institution, the Wayne County Community College District; and to the many wonderful speakers, presenters and volunteers.
We are sharing with you this week a list of publications for your summer reading. Most of these publications were suggested during the Conference Presidential Leadership Panel. In some instances, there are multiple versions of the titles by varying authors. We have provided a brief description/overview of the publication and we urge you to search the book title to see what is also available by different authors.
The book is neither an attempt to advocate for a particular future direction nor a warning about that future. Rather, it looks objectively at the contexts in which higher education has operated—and will continue to operate.
Disrupting Whiteness proposes an approach to talking about racism that is inclusive, nonthreatening and engaging, and welcomes everyone to the conversation.
This new edition of Friedman's landmark book explains the flattening of the world better than ever- and takes a new measure of the effects of this change on each of us.
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Frederick Douglass won the Bancroft, Parkman, Los Angeles Times (biography), Lincoln, Plutarch, and Christopher awards and was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by The New York Times Book Review and others.
It’s the future of work, and it’s here now. In this life-changing guide, you'll be empowered to find greater purpose in your own life and career, and to spread that power to others in your business and beyond.
Why? As Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert explains, when people try to imagine what the future will hold, they make some basic and consistent mistakes.
Kevin Lawrence has discovered seventeen habits that allow any leader to transcend the perils of success and keep achieving--habits that have already helped hundreds of CEOs and executives become stronger and more resilient.
Offers those who continually run into stumbling blocks when it comes to personal success five connecting principles and five connecting practices that the author believes are the keys to creating the change and results you seek.
A Leadership Guide for Women in Higher Education, by Marjorie Hass (2021)
In A Leadership Guide for Women in Higher Education, Hass draws on her sixteen years of senior leadership experience, her work with national higher education organizations, and her mentorship work with dozens of women to address fundamental issues women face when they lead in higher education.
Relax and enjoy your summer reading!
“Ten suggestions for Getting Along Better with People”
Here are some useful tips to live by when building relationships, building your personal brand and interacting within your various networks:
Guard your tongue – say less than you think.
Make promises sparingly but keep them faithfully.
Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind word.
Be interested in others, their pursuits, work and families.
Be cheerful – don’t dwell on minor aches and small disappointments.
Keep an open mind – discuss, don't argue. Disagree without being disagreeable.
Discourage gossip – it’s destructive.
Be careful of others' feelings.
Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you. Live so that nobody will believe them.
Don’t be anxious about getting credit. Just do your best and be patient.
Source: Excerpt from Bits & Pieces Magazine (date unknown)
How to Get the Most from Your Volunteers
Happy Independence Day! Can you believe it’s July already?
As a follow-up to the 2022 Annual MI-ACE Women’s Network Conference, the Executive Board would like to thank the many individuals who signed up to volunteer for committee assignments and become more involved with Network activities. Getting involved in the Network is another way that we can support the professional development of women in higher education.
As the premier organization for women in higher education in the state, below are some tips from the Network’s leadership to assure that volunteers are successful in their efforts, as well as make their service a rewarding experience:
- First, and foremost, personalize your interest in their success.
- Assign volunteers to committees that match their abilities or interests.
- Train the volunteer in the various functions of the committee and culture of the organization.
- As committee chair(s), allow committee members to function. Don’t do everything yourself. There is no more hopeless a feeling than wanting to contribute, but not being allowed to do so.
- Seek opportunities to showcase committee members.
As leaders, we must understand that everyone has value and everyone has something to contribute – if encouraged. Let us work as a team.
Avoid Becoming a Casualty of Cultural Conflict
In the world of academics, we see a great deal of career changing and retirements at the end of an academic year. Change does occur but are you ready for the consequences? If you fit into the category of career changing, and you are considering a job at another institution, the key is to ensure not only that your skills and abilities match up with the needs of the new institution, but that you fit well with the organizational culture. There are two things to consider: the culture of the organization at large and that of the team of which you will be a member.
Following are a few suggestions for reducing the risks of becoming a casualty of cultural conflict:
Know thyself – It is vital to understand yourself as
fully as possible, especially your business-related beliefs and
decision-making processes. It is also helpful to identify those
aspects of different cultures that you relate to and those you don’t.
Write them down and refer to them as you gather data about the
opportunities under consideration.
Inquire about the culture at hand – Do people treat it as “that soft people stuff?” That in itself tells you a great deal about where and with whom you will work. This could be the reason for high turnover and lackluster employees.
Use your network to verify what you have observed about the institution’s cultures –
Former employees, suppliers, or consultants can shed light on what you will actually encounter. You can also ask to obtain permission to talk to a few potential peers or direct reports. Think through the questions you want to ask about “how things get done around here” to get a sense of how much agreement there is about the makeup of the organization’s culture.
While a new situation may appear to be a perfect match, failing to fit adequately with the organizational cultures you encounter may impede your success. What’s more, the higher up you go in any organization, the more important fit becomes.
Source: The Marshall Goldsmith Newsletter, July 2021.