4 Core Skills and How to Refine Them


Core skills are the ones that every professional, regardless of their field, industry, or level, should simply have.



What does it mean to be a great communicator: A great communicator understands the nuances of communication (in all its modes - nonverbal and verbal) as well as the causes of miscommunication. They are intentional in their delivery and take the extra moment to understand their audience, and then tailor their message to meet the needs of that audience. They are excellent listeners and skilled at asking questions in order to test assumptions and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

These folks understand the "noise" that may be present in interactions with coworkers, direct reports, clients, and other stakeholders in the organization, and they take the extra step to reduce that noise. They use their ability to communicate to build relationships, and their influence. Great communication is not one skill -- it's a bucket of skills (one of our largest buckets of skills) that when enhanced can help you reach your goals.

As an excellent communicator you

  • Are comfortable and capable of public speaking, leading meetings, and leading 1:1 conversations virtually and in person

  • Are an excellent listener who makes the speaker feel heard by mirroring, active listening and being present in conversations

  • Understand how body language, tone, and reactions impacts your audience and is important in communication

  • peaking concisely, and presenting complex ideas

  • You clarifying objectives and expectations for performance, and regularly ask for and provide feedback.

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Time Management / Productivity

What it means to be have excellent time management and productivity skills: Someone who is extremely productive is working on the right work, at the right time, in the right way.

They know how their time is used each day and can make adjustments when their time seems to be shifting away from productivity. They are organized enough to know their top priorities and, confident enough to communicate boundaries when someone else tries to hijack their day.

They’re not superhuman, they sometimes have moments of procrastination or low motivation. In these moments, a highly productive individual with strong time management skills is able to get reorganized, figure out where that procrastination is coming from, and course correct.

Here’s what you can do to improve your productivity and ability to manage your time:

  • Have processes and methods for organizing your time including a clear plan for their day which includes planning for the unknown

  • Identify key priorities and set boundaries for work that is not a top priority.

  • Understand where your time is used.

  • Be aware of the impact of your personality and habits on your work style and productivity so you are able to self regulate to still meet your goals.

  • Define goals and break them down into actionable steps.

  • Recognize triggers for procrastination and have a plan for how to course correct.

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Strategic Awareness

What it means to be strategically self-aware:

Strategic awareness goes beyond self-awareness and emotional intelligence (though it does include these important skills) and into motivations, goals, and desired outcomes. Someone who is strategically self-aware has a strong sense of what motivates them to do their best work.

They understand their emotional triggers and they take actions to reduce occurrences of these triggers. They practice systems thinking to understand the impact of their actions on others and take time to review their blindspots, by gathering feedback from others. They also understand their influence and sphere of control and are able to shift their actions or behaviors to impact their situation.

What can you do to become more self-aware:

  • Identify how others perceive you and how that compares to how you want to be perceived.

  • Take time to identify your blind spots, and assumptions, and practice systems thinking to understand the impact of your actions on others.

  • Recognize your sphere of influence and control and learn how to shift your actions or behaviors to impact your situation.

  • Understand how you can utilize your strengths, skills, capabilities and feedback for growth while managing ego and other defense mechanisms.

  • Learn to manage your emotions and reactions in a way that aligns with desired professional image and general objectives

  • Learn how to self motivate, reshape your habits and stay accountable to your goals.

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Direction / Focus

What it means to have a clear sense of direction and career focus: Someone who has a clear sense of direction and focus is significantly more likely to stay motivated and productive. This individual understands how their unique values play a role in defining their career direction and focus, and they are able to communicate their professional brand, strengths, capabilities and potential to reach their goals.

Someone who has a clear direction is able to articulate their purpose and career goals and connect their story in a consistent way internally and externally so they can reach their goals and personal definition of success.

They ask questions about their responsibilities, they take responsibility for understanding how their role fits into the bigger picture, and look for specific ways they can grow. They understand the difference between purpose and passion and can build a portfolio of work from a variety of jobs and positions that feels fulfilling to their needs as a professional.

What can you do to enhance your sense of clarity on your career direction and focus:

  • Reflect on what your values are and consider how well you values are currently being met. Consider what success looks like for you.

  • Identify how your role plays your larger context including your manager’s goals, your team goals, company goals and overall unique personal opinions of purpose and success.

  • Gain an understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses, how these and gaps in these play a role in career direction and career development.

  • Identify your personal brand and use your professional brand to help you communicate your strengths, capabilities and where you want to go professionally.

  • Take time to identify your motivators and de-motivators. Knowing what type of work energizes and drains you personally can help you optimize for both to be successful.

  • Reflect on your unique viewpoint of what work is and the role work plays in life. Consider how you can create a balance between work and life in a way that is fulfilling to you.

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