Leadership for Life – What We’re Made of

By on December 1, 2014
Leadership for Life - What We’re Made of

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

Sometimes we need to find out what we’re made of. This is a life long process. When you’re young, you might be told you’re made of “snips and snails, and puppy dog tails.” Alternatively, you might be made of “sugar and spice, and everything nice.”

The more sophisticated among us know that humans are 96% CHON (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen), with the remainder composed of Calcium, Phosphorus, and other trace elements. If that’s the way you think, I expect you’ll have a Periodic Table conspicuously displayed in your office or living room.

We training types have a different approach, of which I was reminded when I came across a little picture on LinkedIn the other day which stated:

No matter what job you have in life, your success will be determined 5% by your academic credentials, 15% by your professional experiences, and 80% by your communication skills.

The reason it caught my attention is that it rings true in my own professional experience. It’s been over 12 years since my academic credentials were relevant to my work at all, and even when my academic background was a requirement for my job, I used it less than 30% of the time. And let’s be sure to make the distinction between academic credentials and academic skills. No one cares about my BS in English, but they sure do care that I know how to write grammatically correct sentences and spell correctly.

Professional experience has, for me, been additive. For every job I’ve had, I’ve been able to use skills acquired in previous positions and add to those skills over time. I would guess that’s true for most people – you keep on learning and applying what you know, so that at any given time, you’re the best you have ever been.

Speaking for myself, communication skills are by far the most important part of my skills repertoire, and also represent my stock in trade. My personal and business relationships are all built on my ability to communicate clearly. The content of the courses I teach is well over 80% communication issues.

What about you? Have you found the same mix in your personal and professional life? Is your current work based on your academic background, or have you moved beyond that? How have you been able to leverage your accumulated experience in your current job? Would an improvement in your communication skills take you further? I’d be interested in hearing from you. I’m at the usual place – bschapiro@stlcc.edu.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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