In the last chapter of The Geek Leader’s Handbook, the author teaches us about something so important I honestly think it should have been one of the first chapters; Soft Skills. The book goes to explain that soft skills can be confusing and hard to understand, with this I agree, but as a student in college I found out the hard way that soft skills are some of the most important traits to pick up on. both general soft skills and the ones covered in this chapter (pertaining to influence) are very important for a geek leader.
The chapter focuses on soft skills pertaining to influence, but to begin I would actually like to share why more general soft skills are also important for any geek who needs to freshen up his. My First? Communication. From what I know, geeks aren’t the type to openly talk to people, but we MUST communicate. Learning to communicate when necessary and immediately is a very important skill. Business will require it, working at the I.T. center one of the first things we learn is to keep our tickets updated. I was informed each time I forgot to write a closing statement on a ticket by one of my bosses, I had to learn quickly to work on that. When our class visited Datotel, one of the most important answers to a question one of us had about employee performance was one about communication. People got in trouble for not updating and communication on tickets. Communication is bloodflow in a business, no matter what it is, it helps define a problem and it helps solve a problem.
The soft skill from the chapter that found to be the most critical was the first; The ability to listen for what is important. You must understand before you can sympathize. As the book says, you have to find what is important to a person during a situation. It means so much to a person when you show them that you understand, and listen to them. I remember my influence greatly increasing with a friend when she admitted to me that i was the only current friend she had in college that completely understood how she felt; we where both in the same situation, thus, I could listen and respond to her in a way we both understood perfectly.
The most important part in this video below starts at the 3:30 mark. Listening leads to understanding. Communication is always a key soft skill.