The Skill Paradox

What got you here won’t get you there.

Marshal  Goldsmith wrote a book on this topic to highlight the importance of letting go of the delusions of success. Typically this book was targeted at the Leaders and CEOS who were successful and who were under the belief that since they accomplished so much there way is the right way and things will straighten out to their favour. But that is not the case. Else we might not see such successful CEOs and the organisations they represent biting the dust. Think Paul Allen.

The Skill ParadoxBut my reason for writing this post is directed to the aam junta – the lesser mortals who make up for 90 % of the employed – the minions.

The queer fact is that the minions of today will turn out to be our future Leaders – some of them atleast.  I think we can say with a reasonable amount of assurance that some of the minions we will take up key roles – 5 years / 10 years down the line.

Hence the statement from Goldsmith – addressed to us minions

What got you here won’t get you there.

I like to call it the skills paradox. The skills that got you here won’t get you there.

As new entrants to the work force your skills in languages , technical know how and qualifications help you step through the door or break through the threshold. But, increasingly organisations are realising that Managerial roles call for a certain different set of skills. Which, you may choose to ignore at your own peril.

No doubt an organisations’ success depends on the individual skill levels of their employees. But, if those highly skilled and highly paid employees are not able to work in sync as a team – then the teams’ and by extension the organisations performance levels suffer. This is especially true for the manager. If the manager is unable to resonate with his team a lot can get forsaken. There are  umpteen instances where an exceptional performer gets promoted and we soon find the overall performance of the team nose dives.

The irony is that our educational curriculum on which over 15 of our learning years are spent, is geared towards developing our Intellectual Skills – memory and analysis. Almost negligible importance is given to building our social skills – communication, giving and taking respect, self awareness, self belief, etc. Life habits that build character are not touched upon. The reason could be that these skills are not easily measuarble. How do you measure discipline? Or for that matter your ability to negotiate? Tough .

So that gives rise to a situation where we have ultra smart, tech savvy students with data on their finger tips – aces at number crunching. But place them in a social setting – they break into a cold sweat. Promote such an individual Top Performer to a Managerial role and you are likely to see the whole team performance suffer

What are the abilities that separate a leader from an individual team player-

According to an article by the Guru of Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman – the five abilities that distinguish a good leader are

  • Self Awareness
  • Self Regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Ironically – these are the very same skills that are not taught at school.

The good News is that leading organisations have woken up to the importance of interpersonal skills.

Over the past couple of decades the trend has been increasingly towards gearing up the employees with skills to work better in concert in the work place and helping them to improve their emotional quotient.   But still a not needs to be done to take these learnings to the grass roots.

Lets hope the coming years will see a speedy tapering of the skills Paradox.

Wishing you all Happy Holidays and Warm wishes for a Fantastic New Year!!


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