Author: Kristina Proffitt
18th October 2018
This is a guest post by Maddie Davis from Enlightened Digital.
Today’s job market pushes professionals to market themselves in the best possible light to demonstrate their most valuable assets to employers.
Because workforce demands constantly evolve across every industry, it can be difficult to know which skills you should focus on developing and highlighting for potential employers.
Nevertheless, there are a few tried and true skills that have always proven beneficial, particularly in the technology industry.
Let’s see what some of the world’s top tech executives have had to say about four critical skills, so that we can better understand why they’re so highly valued.
Top-performing leaders understand that strong communication skills are the key to lasting success.
Confidently speaking up for yourself, and expressing yourself clearly and concisely, will make it easier for others to recognize you as an authority.
Alphabet CEO Larry Page promotes this skill throughout his company by hosting frequent “TGIF” employee conference calls. These calls give employees a chance to discuss ongoing company objectives, action items, update the status of previous discussions and gain insight into what the executive staff is doing.
Strong communication skills are important at every stage of your career, whether you’re an entry-level employee or a C-suite executive. According to SHRM’s 2016 Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, 48% of employees considered frequent communication between employees and senior leadership to be crucial to their ability to stay engaged.
Collaboration is the cornerstone of a productive workforce, so keep improving your communication abilities!
There is a vast difference between people who view their job as a paycheck and those who view it as a core part of their lives, particularly in management roles. According to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, “Sub-par managers will yield nothing but sub-par results.”
Hurd explains that it’s essential for managers to “understand how their teams must engage inside and outside the company to deliver maximum value, and stay focused on making that strategy come alive for customers and prospects.” This skill is built on a genuine passion for your position and requires an ability to see beyond your daily objectives.
Insureon CEO Ted Devine has a similar view. He claims, “there is a huge difference between people who really want to help the company improve and those who treat it like a job.” This difference should be an assessment factor when identifying talent. Balancing skill and will is essential in forming a strong workforce.
With engaged management comes a more satisfied team. 65% of employees trust their CEOs more after hearing their success stories, and 70% reported that they trusted their CEO more after knowing the obstacles they’ve overcome. This sort of transparency can only be developed through honesty and openness.
Whether you’re on the executive team or in a mid-level position, sharing and engaging with others can be incredibly valuable in building confidence and turbocharging your professional growth.
Regardless of your industry, you’ll probably agree that your work process is continuously changing. To stay relevant, a willingness to adapt and explore new methods and opportunities is essential.
Manta CEO John Swanciger emphasizes the value of curiosity in identifying valuable employees, stating that the curious are the ones who “ask good questions and search for creative ways to accomplish tasks…They seek out knowledge from different parts of the business and apply what they learn to their daily responsibilities.”
Maintaining a hunger for learning benefits not only you and your personal growth, but also adds tremendous value to the company you choose to work for. Business thrive on innovation. If you can provide that, it won’t go unnoticed.
The desire to expand one’s abilities goes hand-in-hand with curiosity. Identifying your natural strengths and applying them to further excel in your role shows that you’re interested in growth. As Peanut CEO Michelle Kennedy puts it, “It’s no longer acceptable to say ‘that’s not my area, I do X.’” Versatility is one of today’s most valuable skills. This is not to say that specialization is no longer valuable, but understanding how to use your specialty to help other parts of your company can amplify your professional value. This is especially true in digitally-focused jobs; a Deloitte study indicates that leadership roles now focus more on enabling “project-based” teamwork. Your specialization will mean more to your company if you can use it to solve a variety of problems.
Success doesn’t come without hard work and motivation, which is why developing a strong work ethic can take you far. Most top top tech leaders exemplify this trait. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, for example, often worked 12-hour days for weeks at a time in the early days of Amazon.
Mark Cuban is also very open about the incredible amount of effort that went into building his success. On his blog, he writes about going seven years without a vacation and routinely staying up until 2 a.m. to read about new software when he first started his company. Finding something you love, and using that passion as motivation to achieve your personal best, will make you a standout in any profession.
Professional success involves more than hard work and long hours – you also need to develop a proper work-life balance to avoid professional burnout. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg famously leaves work at 5:30 every evening to spend time with her family, but that doesn’t mean she slacks off. To balance her professional success with her family relationships, she starts her day at seven in the morning and returns to work once her kids are put to bed.
The leaders we look up to today weren’t born to be CEOs or business titans – they worked hard to secure the powerful positions they hold today. This serves as a reminder that with the right skillset, determination and support, anything is possible. As the old saying goes, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. We encourage you to find your passion and build on it to grow into the best version of yourself, so you can achieve any goal you have in your sights.
Maddie Davis is co-founder of Enlightened Digital and a tech-obsessed female from the Big Apple. She lives by building and re-designing websites, running marathons, and reading anything and everything on the NYT Best Sellers list.