The intangible skills and traits are those seen in a few choice employees that seem to make them nearly ideal. They deal with pressure, stay self-possessed in a crunch situation, and only go on adding to those prized qualities as they shore up more corporate work experience. What’s more, they even seem to coach and take other teammates along with them in their success stories.
The intangible qualities of a leader rise to the fore quite early– much before they take on a real mantle at the workplace. Their behavior and focus on delivering outcomes get noticed during interviews and play a crucial role in their hiring and promotion decisions. This is why it is worth noting how to go about developing these winsome intangible skills.
Looking closely at intangible skills – truths and pitfalls
The truth about intangible skills is that they are very much like quantitative aptitude or critical thinking skills that can be cultivated over time. All one needs is to recognize them as valuable and inculcate them consciously. The other fact about intangible skills is that one can only demonstrate them if they have a handle on their emotional intelligence. Pretending to be unruffled in pressured-filled scenarios is not possible, as the discomfort would eventually show in some word or non-verbal gesture.
Instead, it is better to try and learn intangible skills over time, even if it takes longer. Chances are, it would take longer because it is a behavioral change to not respond with sarcasm, anxiety, or panic when a major change comes along, or a long-cherished hope is thwarted by some change of policy. At such times, while people on the emotional short-leash would internalize the event, the more mature ones would remind themselves that although they are sad about the results, the fallout itself isn’t a judgment on their actions or priorities. In short, they are able to rephrase the problem and deal with it. Not only would these intangible skills help professionals get hired, they would also make them more bankable persons to have in any network or organizational setting.
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Some of the most valuable intangible skills and traits to develop are:
Adaptability: At the very first glance, learning new skills appears to be simple. Adaptability can be the characteristic readiness to learn to accept small changes. In truth, the true test of learning a new behavior is when a situation is already tense and one doesn’t feel ready to give in further. Under such circumstances, changing one’s closely-held beliefs or hopes to bend into a whole other avenue is called adaptability. Changing without strain and fighting the change within oneself all the time is not adaptability. It is only a pretence at adapting. With true adaptability, one develops a distance toward the outcome and welcomes a whole other outcome than they had once hoped for. This is the kind of attitude and intangible skills that companies would value in their employees, because they don’t get flustered or demotivated by changing circumstances.
Team spirit: Team spirit is one of the most significant of human skills. Again, it smacks of a genuine generosity of spirit that cannot be imitated or cajoled. A true team leader or team member would not only give of themselves when tough times come. They would give positivity and time to their team in happy times too, when very little is expected of them. Team players would not shy away from taking work, delegating, and passing credit forward. They are the ones who proactively ask, “Can I do anything to make your job easier?” They are high on empathy. Teams forged with intangible skills are inherently humane. Skills like openness, generosity of time and energy, even if it is to merely encourage and support a member, and genuine sharing of purpose create the highest amount of workforce adaptability. They are ready to see others through their own lenses, and try to make the workspace a welcoming place for everyone.
Leadership: Leadership traits are not demonstrated only by those at the very top rung of their organization. They can be shown by frontline employees as well – those that shoulder the responsibility of representing their organization before customers and in the public. Leaders are within teams, showing their mates how to do their jobs easier, or sharing a piece of advice that helped them do their job better. These professionals make teams better units, even when they don’t head them.
Planning: Some people appear to get a lot more done in a short time. These people might look like multi-taskers. In reality, they are excellent planners. They are the ones who have the intangible qualities of visualization where others stop short. Planning might look like an activity in itself to others. In truth, it helps shave time off one task and allocate it to another. When a task is taking longer than expected, planners know where else they can save time, or which activity can be dropped off – simply because they have thought about it ahead.
Honesty: Also called open-mindedness or forthrightness or being a straight-arrow – honesty is a set of soft skills that begins with self. Honest people see little merit in pretending not to know or not caring to find out the truth about an issue. They get down to the brass tacks and tell it like it is. Granted, this throws up some hard truths for themselves, and sometimes for others to swallow. But this intangible quality ensures they are better informed than others. Honest people also have an easier time accepting the truth around them – a critical quality required to deal with life without denial.
Positivity: It might sound like a cliché that human skills should include being positive. More than making people happy or hopeful, positivity is about allowing people to believe in the happier possibilities than the sad ones. Believing in something good/useful is the first step in giving it strength and making it happen. Positive people have a welcoming “can-do” attitude about them. They try out new things and have wider experiences. Besides being more interesting, they have the people skills of being engaging, warm, and likeable. These are admirable, intangible skills of a leader or a person who unconsciously leads others through projects at work, by simply being an energetic personality.
In developing all these intangible skills, professionals develop soft skills and personality traits that go beyond exemplary domain knowledge. All these qualities contribute towards problem-solving and making work problems easier to unravel.
Reference: 6 Intangible Skills That Can Get You Hired Today | Work IT Daily | Deborah Shane and Jenna Arcand | November 2020
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