Tough challenge on soft skills

Nov 30 2009 by Philip Whiteley Print This Article

I hosted a brilliant talk by Mary Louise Angoujard and Fiona Coleman at last week's Human Capital Forum. They illustrated how influential seemingly tiny matters of personal presentation can be, even at – or perhaps especially at – senior executive levels.

Intonation of words; confidence of presentation, even the angle at which we hold our heads as we talk, are hugely influential. This does not make us 'shallow', but rather shows how the whole of the message has to line up: content, delivery, belief, conviction, passion.

Mary Louise and Fiona, from Rapporta, also showed how our own limiting and empowering beliefs can respectively block or assist our delivery. And the truly fascinating part of this whole subject area is the paradox: to succeed in business; to become effective business partners if you're from an HR background (the context of yesterday's talk), you needed heightened skills of sensitivity and empathy. You need to put yourself in the shoes of the finance director and CEO.

This goes against all the traditional, cynical beliefs of business, as I hope to illustrate in Meet the New Boss.