Skills for Professional Success

In this article we shall discuss the five most essential skills for professional success. Application of these skills is warranted by the prevailing set of circumstances.
Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand emotions of self and others, and apply this understanding for connecting more effectively with the surrounding environment.
Daniel Goleman’s EI Model:It  focuses on EI as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance, and consists of five areas:
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  • Self Awareness: Know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions. Self-awareness depend on one's ability to monitor one's own emotion state and to correctly identify and name one's emotions. Hallmarks of self-awareness include self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.
  • Self Regulation: Manage or redirect one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapt to changing circumstances. Hallmarks include trustworthiness and integrity; comfort with ambiguity; and openness to change.
  • Internal Motivation : A passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond money and status -which are external rewards, - such as an inner vision of what is important in life, a joy in doing something, curiosity in learning, a flow that comes with being immersed in an activity. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. Hallmarks include a strong drive to achieve, optimism even in the face of failure, and organizational commitment.
  • Empathy :Recognize, understand, and consider other people’s feelings especially when making decisions. Hallmarks include expertise in building and retaining talent, cross-cultural sensitivity, and service to clients and customers.
  • Social Skills :Manage other’s emotions to move people in the desired direction. Hallmarks of social skills include effectiveness in leading change, persuasiveness, and expertise building and leading teams.
Willingness to Learn
An individual’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage. Learning should be an ongoing, dynamic and life long process. People who are high on this skill start demonstrating it right from their formative days of schooling/education (through learning from both academic & extra-curricular activities) to their advanced stages of professional careers.
Problem Solving & Decision Making
This is the process of working through details of a problem to reach a solution. Systematic problem solving involves the following :
  • Ability to identify problems
  • Understanding various stakeholders and how the problem affects them
  • Generating alternatives
  • Evaluating alternatives
  • Making the final decision
Lateral Thinking
Lateral Thinking is solving of problems by an indirect and creative approach, typically through viewing the problem in a new and unusual light. We need to understand the following in this context:
  • Vertical v/s Lateral thinking : ‘Vertical thinking’ is a type of approach to problems that usually involves one being selective, analytical, and sequential. As opposed to this, lateral thinking follows an out of box, unorthodox and random thinking.
  • Convergent v/s Divergent thinking :Divergent thinking is the process of creating many unique solutions in order to solve a problem. The problem of convergent thinking is systematic and logical, unlike divergent thinking, which is spontaneous and free-flowing.
  • Brain Storming : Brainstorming is a situation where a group of people meet to generate new ideas and solutions around a specific domain of interest by removing inhibitions.
Team Dynamics & Leadership
Working in a team leads to co-operation, co-ordination, collaboration, complementation, and concentration. The following need to be appreciated in this context:
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  • Understanding the challenges of working within a team format in today’s complex organizational environment. Team members need to manage ego clashes, conflicts, and disagreements.
  • Cross-functional teams: A cross-functional team is a group of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal. It is the essence of tem work these days as you need diverse skills for goal accomplishment.
  • Conflict in Teams: This deals with leveraging differences to create opportunity leadership in the team setting & energizing team efforts.
  • Situational leadership: The same leadership style cannot be practiced in all situations; depending upon the circumstance and environmental context the leadership style also changes.
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