It took me a while to get this:
No-one cares about how much you think you know.
No-one cares about all the seminars you attend. About all the books you’ve read. About how many Coursera trainings you’ve done. About your blogs. About your network. About your long nights building your knowledge and hard skills.
Knowing a lot about your shit doesn’t make you a leader: It’s expected from you.
That’s the thing:
No-one cares about how much you think you know. They care about what you can do for them.
All that priceless effort is only worth what you can do with it, nothing more. To have them in your head and never using them doesn’t help your company and your team to achieve your strategic goals.
All these thousands of hours are meant to give you a solid knowledge on theories and concepts. That’s ok, you need it, but remember that theories ‘per se’ are never wrong. It’s easy to hide behind them, drop them every now and then in meeting, look smart, and lecture others while we refuse taking action to avoid being wrong.
That’s not what good strategist and leaders do.
Good strategists and leaders use that knowledge to take the right action.
Once I understood this, my career changed overnight, and if you are having this problem, it will change too.
From knowing to doing
When I realised that no-one cared about all that knowledge (just me) I asked to myself: what’s preventing me from using them? What’s stopping me from writing the success stories in my company rather than reading them from others?
And then I had the moment of epiphany: It’s about the soft skills, stupid.
Soft skills like Influence, Leadership, Active listening, Empathy, Learning to communicate, Learning to be wrong and Learning to be right. They don’t teach that in Strategy manuals, and we don’t talk about that in our Digital Conferences. We should.
Again, this is something that is expected from us, but If you don’t have it, you need to work them out, as much as your hard skills.
Hard and Soft Skills: You need them both
Don’t get me wrong. You need to keep reading and learning if you want to succeed, but that’s just not enough if you don’t know how to lead.
For great leaders it comes natural.They’ve known this for years, and have worked in it’s soft skills as much as their hard ones. The advantage that they have is that they learn faster by doing than by reading (but they do a lot of that too, that’s why they are successful and end up writing the books you read). If you are someone who naturally leads probably you will find it hard to believe that some people struggles to jump from theory to action, but they do.
Again: you need them both. Not working on your soft skills is as pointless as having a General that leads the troops with great leadership but knows nothing about the battle he’s fighting. You need both.
Don’t become the pedantic prick that just appears on meetings reminding us what this author thinks on the topic. If you think that’s useful, use it, test it, lead change with it. Don’t lecture: Act. Don’t say: Do.
And please, don’t wait. Quit reading this blog right now. Go out and figure out what Skills you need to improve. Ask for true constructive feedback. Don’t wait for an opportunity to lead, just make it happen: Join a club like Toastmasters. Organise your friends party. Lead the project you want to make in your work. Start doing Yoga. Lead yourself. Launch a charity action with family and friends. Go and lead. That’s what Generals do.
If this helps you change your career, send me a note, I’d love to hear you story.