Hey there, Skill Miner is online. In my previous article 4 soft skills to learn in 2018 according to LinkedIn and Business Insider, I made an exhaustive compilation of various learning portfolios. This compilation even included an excel sheet calculating total time and cost of the courses. Each of those portfolios was aimed at developing 4 crucial soft skills: Leadership, Communication, Collaboration and Time Management.
Today I will share with you my experience. Yes, I took all these courses and below is the story of my adventure.
The story behind
Being realistic in terms of time and money I selected a LinkedIn soft skills portfolio compiled by Paul Petrone in his article. To understand how much, I can really develop the skills, I enrolled in it. If you remember from my previous article the subscription is about 30.00$ per Month and the total duration is 24 hours.
So, I reserved 4 weekends to get through these courses. In my previous article, I couldn’t give any experience-based judgment but assumed that these courses are quite generalistic and superficial.
So, I can say that I assumed it very wrong.
First pleasant thing is that these courses are not just presentations with a background voice. Such approach can be quite tiring sometimes. Here, all the time you will see your mentor. It provides a feeling of a dialogue. You learn not just a theory but you also see a living example of the skills mastery.
Body Language for Leaders
I started with Body Language for Leaders from Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman. This course was allocated to the leadership skill development group. However, I would say that it has an equally important impact on all the rest of the skills. The course duration is a bit shorter than one hour. You will learn great practical tips on how to shake hands to make a good impression, control your vocal tone, what to do with your feet, hands, and posture.
You could say that soft skills are an area, where theory doesn’t help much. I could agree and that’s why there is a practical tip from Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman what you should do every day to master your skills in body language.
“Uncrossing your arms in a meeting instantly makes you appear more open and collaborative. Orienting your entire body toward whomever is speaking makes that person feel accepted and heard. And striking a two-minute power pose before an important meeting makes you look and feel more confident. The goal is to create good body language habits. So, that you automatically and authentically communicate exactly what you mean.”
Carol Kinsey Goman
Next one was Strategic Thinking by Dorie Clark. I have already emphasized in my previous post Lifting the curtain on Strategic Management basics with MSI Certified how crucial it is to possess competencies in Strategic Management. A great leader can’t reach such a level without being able to set-up long-term goals and being consistent in reaching them. What is also critical that the strategy must be adaptable and adjust to changes.
This course gives you a good overview of a strategy. The course describes the strategy not just as a part of a corporate management. It projects it onto everyday life. How to train Strategic Thinking? Here is a tip from Dorie Clark about what you should do regularly to master this skill.
“Make time to be strategic. <…> Take just an hour a week, ideally at a time when others won’t be pressuring you to meet up. Let’s say late Friday afternoon as the workweek is shutting down. Block that time out on your calendar each week. Treat it like a firm commitment just as though you were meeting with someone else. Make that your strategy time and experiment with the best place to do your thinking, maybe it’s at your desk, maybe it’s taking a walk, you can try it and see.”
Leading without Formal Authority
Created by Lisa Earle and Elizabeth McLeod Leading without Formal Authority is a must-have course for soft skills development. You probably have heard from somebody: “I am not going to do it until I have a proper authority or get more money”. Informal leadership is absolutely opposite. Great leaders do not wait until somebody gives them the opportunity, they create this opportunity themselves.
This course will give you a great overview of informal leadership. Where the place of an informal leader is, how it is important to be a mentor and to have one, how to develop a team mindset and many others. Here is great 10-minute daily practice advice from one of the authors on how to become a good informal leader.
“My 10-minute daily advice would be to learn something new about your organization. Be it an industry trend, the strategic objectives of another department, or the impact you’ve had on a customer. As an informal leader, the more depth and knowledge you have, the more informal, or down the road, formal, leadership authority you will have.”
Lisa Earle McLeod
Communicating with Confidence
The first on the list is the course from Jeff Ansell called Communicating with Confidence. It is full of great tips and guidelines on how to make the audience more involved in what you say. Have you had this feeling that you sound awkward and everybody in the room is focused on their personal stuff? Make a pause. Unexpected silence may work even better than a cold water shower.
I would recommend it to everybody: teachers, sales personnel, managers, engineers it doesn’t matter. All of us want to be heard and this course helps with it. It also covers similar concepts in body language as in Body Language for, Leaders, but there are plenty of unique concepts. It will help you to overcome anxiety and nervousness before a presentation. Control the speed of your speech and make use of such powerful tool as silence. Here is a great tip from Jeff Ansell, how to calm down before going on the stage.
“By taking a private moment to stand in a power pose for two minutes before a stressful meeting, presentation, or speech, you’ll be a more effective and confident communicator”
Dr. John Ullmen made a great job in his course Influencing others. Here you will learn what are the most vital mistakes an influencer can make. How to win the hearts of others, to make their efforts appreciated and valuable. Here you find a versatile tool-set applying which you can increase a positive impact you make on others. An author shared with us an exclusive tip on how to master this tool-set.
“Always try to lead by example, and surround yourself with others who do.”
Dr. John Ullmen
Giving and Receiving Feedback
The last but not the least course to boost your communication soft skills is Giving and Receiving Feedback by Gemma Leigh Roberts. Everybody knows more or less what the feedback is. But how to make sure that we use this tool appropriately? This is the main point of the course. For example, feedback is not always positive and it can be quite a delicate thing to share. To learn such concepts is crucial in building good relationships with other people. Here I would like to share the best tip upon skills development (no matter in which field) from the author.
“Imagine you’re an athlete. It goes without saying the only way you’ll improve your performance is by practicing, getting feedback, making small improvements, and practicing again. Receiving feedback is part of the process, a way to understand what you’re doing well and how you can improve.”
Gemma Leigh Roberts
You would not probably believe me if I say, that the first step to becoming a great speaker is to master listening skills. Effective Listening by Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou will help you with guidance on how to become a better listener.
What is paraphrasing and why it is important? How to suppress internal noise, avoid multitasking and not get overwhelmed with information flow. What I liked especially are the real-life scenes the authors played. Like simulations to help us see how the theory works in practice. You would ask: “Is listening to others a skill and how can it be trained?” What to do if your colleague doesn’t really listen to you, here is a practical tip from the mentors.
“After the meeting with the non-listener, send an email saying “I know we had a lot to talk about today. I wanted to summarize my perspective in writing so that you had time to reflect and generate some questions for our next discussion”. Poor listeners may need channel switching once in a while depending on the circumstances.”
“If someone isn’t listening to me, I need to step back and think, “Why should they care about what I’m saying?” Audience-centric communication is the responsiblity of the speaker. If I’m rambling on, unorganized, or without any obvious connection to the listener, I need to regroup. Try using the speaking template, WHAT (WHAT is my key idea), SO WHAT (how does this content matter to my listener), and NOW WHAT (are there next steps).”
Finding Your Introvert/Extrovert Balance in the Workplace
The course Finding Your Introvert/Extrovert Balance is built upon describing the differences between Extrovert and Introvert types of a character. The main focus is to use effectively strengths of each and also to improve and develop weaknesses. You would agree that the first step is of course to define these strengths and weaknesses.
The course gives you a great guidance in this field. The main message – being a great leader doesn’t mean to be an extrovert, being a reserved and closed person doesn’t all time mean to be an introvert. Suprised? Explore more with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou.
Building Business Relationships
The last course in the group is called Building Business Relationships and it is created by Simon T. Bailey. To make things more comprehensive the course is divided into 4 big sections (if I don’t count introduction): Building relationships with your Manager, Team, other Departments, and Executives. The ability to build up a good relationship with right people is crucial nowadays. Almost everybody can name a few people who have influenced their lives one way or another. It is also crucial not just to think about your own career but also to take care of people around you. One day they might become a part of your own team with whom you will establish something new and great.
“Relationships are the currency of the future. <…> On a daily basis, you have a choice to make an investment in connecting with your boss, engaging with your team members, collaborating with other departments, and learning from executives. As you commit to the process of building business relationships, you will discover your return on investment yields results that benefit you throughout your career. However, this is just the beginning in your professional journey.”
Simon T. Bailey
Managing Your Time
Time is priceless and the only resource that can’t be reimbursed. But somehow everybody complains about having just 24 hours a day. Managing Your Time by Todd Dewett is the great starting point to increase specific productivity of each of your hour.
The very first thing to say is that the course is just 12 minutes long. It focuses on the strategy of how to become more time efficient. This course is not about the best ways of how to schedule your day. It shows a strategic picture. You will learn what Einstein window is, how to apply Pareto rule in your planning and how important it is to specify when you can be disturbed and when not.
“That’s the period of every day where you have your little mental peak, right where work feels almost fun, problems feel, no problem at all. Work flies off your desk. You feel the most positive, the most in tune, in the moment. Capable of doing next to anything. That’s a great feeling. That’s why I call it the Einstein Window.”
Great Workplace Habits
Power of a habit is enormous. The course from Gretchen Rubin called Great Workplace Habits will help you first of all figure out which type of a character you are: Obligers, Questioners, Upholders, and Rebels. By understanding these 4 types you will see what is the best way for you to develop your own habits. You will also find out the reason for past failures in habits establishment. The only thing I would like to correct from my side is that this course is not that much about Time Management as about Сommunication and Collaboration Skills.
When you’re trying to shape your habits at work, or when you’re trying to work with other people and their habits, it’s very important to recognize the way that you might be like other people, and also different from other people. Understanding the distinctions among people can make it much easier to keep the habits that you want to keep, and also work harmoniously with people who might have different habits from you.
Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done is the course made by the author David Allen. It will guide you through the 5 main steps in the process of getting things done. You have probably heard about the book with the same name. This course highlights the main principles of this concept. They are: Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect, and engage.
“Getting things done is a set of practices that I have researched and tested over many, many years. It’s really not about time management, it’s really more about how do we manage our focus, how do we manage our attention. <…> Quite simply the first step is to capture and to recognize anything that’s not on cruise control and you need to identify those things. So you need to capture or collect anything that may be out of place or not exactly where it needs to be the way, the way it needs to be.”
Soft skills to mine
So, my conclusion is that this soft skills learning portfolio collected by Paul Petrone definitely worths taking. The tips and guidelines you find in the courses can help you develop the specified skills. Of course, if you apply them regularly and consistently. Here you can read about how I give my evaluations. It is only my opinion that may not coincide with yours. I am always open for discussions.
Soft Skills development is vital for a successful career. It also vital for being happy and find your place in the society. These courses on LinkedIn definitely worth the time and effort I invested in them. I enjoyed having a dialogue with teachers. You would ask why this learning portfolio didn’t get 5 out of 5 for each skill? Because this last point depends solely on you and your desire to practice these concepts. There is no such course that can make you a master straight away. You still have to practice.
I recommend these courses for everybody who strives for self-development and learning. Who believes that any improvement must be continuous and there is no boundaries for perfection.