How are your “soft skills”?

17March2007

The following summary from CMAA Newsbriefs highlights a Wall Street Journal article which points out an important fact – many skills that are difficult to measure, so-called “soft skills”, such as listening, leadership, communication, and teamwork, are critical to ones career growth.

Many college-level construction programs do a great job teaching technical skills such as construction scheduling, estimating, and contracting. Students should seek opportunities to develop their interpersonal skills as well.

“M.B.A. Programs Hone ‘Soft Skills'”
Wall Street Journal (02/12/07) P. B3; Dvorak, Phred

Increasingly, business schools are dedicating more of their curriculum to “soft” management training. Interest in soft skills such as listening and teamwork has increased in the wake of the growing number of managers whose responsibilities now entail attracting and retaining skilled laborers. Warren Bennis, an author and professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, says more companies are seeking managers skilled in the art of listening, negotiating compromises, and communicating. “It isn’t just nice–these interpersonal skills,” Bennis says. “It’s about stuff that’s necessary to lead a complex organization.” To meet this demand, some business schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management have included classes and workshops in their curriculum on developing relationships and leading meetings. First-year students are now required to work with second-year “coaches” on leadership style and communication. The Stanford Graduate School of Business is revising its leadership-training program this fall to mandate that all first-year students take part in teamwork and management-simulation exercises, take personality tests, and assess their interpersonal skills. Executive coaches will be invited to sit in and provide advice.

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