Is there a high-level competency crisis? ...
...Why aren’t we educated in areas such as leadership, negotiations, presentations, time management and other important skills we need as our career develops?
Dr. Constantine “Dino” Kiritsis
SoFIA Board Member, Founder, StudySmart
As an entrepreneur in the professional training industry I have always found myself talking about the importance of soft skills, especially as we grow and develop throughout our careers. Everyone seems to agree with the assumption that these are quite ‘important’ and ‘crucial’ requirements towards effective leadership and management.
The question therefore that comes to mind is why on earth aren’t schools focusing on these areas, why Universities do not deal with such topics in most curriculums and why are organizations not paying more attention? Well, the quick answers are that schools are still organized in the same way they were in the industrial age, university professors—in many cases—have never worked in the areas they teach and corporate leaders do not train themselves once they reach a high position. They feel they do not need epimorphosis when, in fact, this is the time to invest in themselves given that their leadership and decisions will affect a greater number of people and the sustainability of the business.
Organizations seem to ask for trainings in technical areas (new tax laws, new regulations, accounting standards, reporting, business intelligence, new software, etc.), but when it comes to spending funds on soft skills development, the feeling is that we ‘don’t need it as much’. But how can they transfer the knowledge from the technical workshops when they are not effective in handling meetings, are uninspiring, they do not communicate effectively and overall are afraid to listen?
Part of the reason is because leaders, as stated earlier, stop training themselves. They feel they do not need any further training, as everything they needed to learn has been gained. They claim also that there is no time. Many of these individuals even end teaching others(!) on effective leadership, negotiations and other areas purely based on experience. Don’t get me wrong: this is possible and a good percentage of such individuals may be effective; however, many of the leaders in top organizations made their way up because they followed the simple hierarchy, played the politics required, maybe had the right ‘passport’ or relationship required and did not make any creative disruptions. Furthermore, many professionals without such skills have (own) their own organizations, especially in the SMEs and never had to ‘fight’ to get to where they are as no one actually appraised them and of course they won’t fire themselves if they do not do a good job! In essence, businesses seem to be neglecting some important areas when it comes to learning and development. Look out, there is a competency crisis out there but no one is really dealing with it, but before we express any more views, let’s start assessing ourselves for a change.