Soft Skills vs Hard Skills?  You’re Asking the Wrong Question.

I am delighted to bring you this guest blog by my very talented and cutting-edge friend and colleague – Gihan Perera

A few weeks ago, the Australian Government announced changes to the funding of university degrees, prioritising the jobs and professions they said would be most in-demand in the future – especially in a post-pandemic future. Predictably, the industries with more funding were happy, and there was an outcry from those with less funding – in particular, the humanities.

As an example of the latter, one humanities professor was quoted this way in the media:

Given what is happening in the world right now, she said the skills taught on these [humanities] courses, including critical thinking, communication, ethics, creativity, innovation and human-centred decision-making, are more important than ever.

I don’t want to open the Pandora’s Box of the politics of university funding, but I do want to comment on what I think is muddled thinking here.

Obviously, this professor is pushing her own barrow here, and this is a nice sound-bite for a media article. But this kind of thinking is completely wrong.

Well … not COMPLETELY wrong.

Let me take that back. I 100% agree with her these skills are more important than ever. But she implies they are taught only in humanities courses, and that’s simply not true.

Even 30 years ago, in my science degree, we learned critical thinking, communication, creativity, and innovation – in fact, they were essential skills for a software developer. And I’m sure the contemporary version would teach human-centred design. And ethics is taught in courses such as physiotherapy.

This is not about arts vs science!

It’s easy to make this a debate about which disciplines are more important. The government has made some decisions based on future job prospects, and we can argue endlessly about these decisions.

But instead of taking sides based on industry, discipline, or profession, let’s talk about the skills for the future.

In a nutshell: We need “deep” skills and “wide” skills.

Deep skills are the skills unique to a job, profession, industry, or discipline. You want a cardiologist to know about heart surgery, an auto mechanic to know about cars, a cellist in an orchestra to know how to play the cello, an Instagram marketing consultant to know about Instagram marketing, and so on. If you don’t have those skills, you can’t do that job.

You expect these people to learn those skills through university, TAFE, or some other source. And then you expect them to keep up-to-date – through their professional association, attending conferences and seminars, doing online courses, or whatever.

We also all need “wide” skills.

These are the transferable skills that span different disciplines, and they apply whether your deep skills are in science, humanities, or any other discipline. Yes, these include the things that humanities professor mentioned – like communication, ethics, and problem-solving.

Some people refer to these as “soft skills”, usually to suggest these are more about people than technology. But that’s the wrong distinction because they include technology-related skills that aren’t specific to a discipline. That’s why I call them “wide” skills because they are transferable and span many disciplines.

The Institute For the Future, the World Economic Forum, and many other organisations have identified some of these wide skills. Here are just a handful of examples …

We’re bombarded by more information than ever before, and it’s not possible to shut it out in the hope you can catch up later. That’s why we need the skill of Cognitive Load Management, which is about being comfortable (or at least, not too uncomfortable) with managing this information. Rather than feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you have strategies to filter and prioritise it effectively. In the olden days, we called this time management or goal setting. This is the new and improved version, which incorporates those older ideas, but recognises we’re now operating in a faster world with exponentially more inputs.

With the wider range of communication tools now, people want their leaders to have Leadership By Influence. You have followers because you’re influential and respected, not just because you have greyer hair, a corner office, a better job title, or a higher income. This is about being a leader because you are an authority, not because you have authority. In the workplace, managers must also be mentors; and in the community, leaders need to earn respect through well-considered decisions based on evidence.

The explosion in online communication tools leads to importance in the skill of New Media Literacy, which is about being comfortable with the constant changes in how we communicate – for example, online communication platforms, new social media tools, multimedia, storytelling (and how it’s changed), and shorter attention spans. We need to be willing to access, adopt, and adapt to whatever media are most appropriate and effective for different audiences.

Our education system is woefully inadequate in building numeracy skills. Instead of being able to do times tables in your head (a useless skill, now that you can ask Siri or Google), we need the skill of Computational Thinking. This is about “being good with numbers”, in the sense of being able to present and interpret data, charts, and statistics – and ask intelligent questions about them. For example, during the current coronavirus pandemic – which affects everybody – we should at least have a basic understanding of “flattening the curve”, logarithmic scales on graphs, and “excess deaths”.

The World Economic Forum predicts we all need about 25 days (yes, five weeks!) of training each year to “upskill” for the future. That’s why we need the skill of Active Learning, which is about proactively choosing to be a lifelong learner, and actively engaging in learning, re-learning, and even “unlearning” what’s no longer true. It’s also about using your skill of cognitive load management to choose the best learning channels – online and offline, digital and physical, alone and with others, and so on.

How are YOU helping your people develop their deep and wide skills?

I’ve only listed a few of these wide skills, but I think you get the idea. The key is that these are transferable skills that span multiple disciplines, and are not just “soft skills”.

In my experience, many organisations have clear learning paths for deep skills, but far fewer learning opportunities for wide skills. Even when those latter skills are taught, they are often taught in specific circumstances (For example, a small cohort of “emerging leaders” might be taught leadership skills).

If you’re a leader, manager, or HR professional, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Are we biased towards deep skills at the expense of wide skills?
  2. For each person in our team, what wide skills could help them perform better?
  3. What am I doing to develop my OWN wide skills?

I said many organisations have neglected these wide skills, but that’s not true of everybody. I’ve also been fortunate to work with some exceptional organisations that put the resources into teaching wide skills because they know these are the skills for future-proofing their teams and organisations.


If you or your team members are active life long learners and would like to develop your wide skills including communication and leading with influence skills, do check out:

You can call also me on 027 280 3335 or send an email –

I look forward to hearing!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Posted in Careers, Emotional Intelligence, Performance and Productivity | Leave a comment

Coaches: Having the Uncomfortable Coaching Conversations

Are you looking for a way to create life-changing results for your clients quickly and consistently?

Then you need to get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations and asking difficult questions!

This month, former ICF President and multi best-selling author, Marcia Reynolds will host a complimentary masterclass called Keys To Breakthrough Coaching. I’d love you to be my guest.

In this live masterclass, Marcia will show you how to have a greater impact on your clients, their organizations, and the world. You’ll discover how to turn the uncomfortable conversations and difficult questions 99% of coaches avoid into your standard mode of operation.

Get high-impact strategies you can implement in your very next coaching engagement!

Register for the Keys To Breakthrough Coaching Masterclass now.

If you’re interested, I recommend that you sign up. Coach training sessions like these often reach full capacity quickly.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me about this session. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Coaching in the New World

Marshall Goldsmith is considered Thinkers50’s ‘World’s Most Influential Leadership Thinker’ (2015 and 2011) along with being an award-winning coach and best-selling author. He is the author or editor of 35 books, which have sold over two million copies, been translated into 30 languages and become bestsellers in 12 countries.

He was a recent speaker at a value-packed WBECS full summit for global coaches. Marshall Goldsmith answered questions from coaches about his philosophy on life and coaching, his upcoming book, The Earned Life, and the current pandemic and its effect on the coaching profession.We benefitted from some wonderful personal and professional reflections from the world’s leading coach.

He is just a few nuggets from the session

  • Mindfulness is very simple. Ask yourself one question. Am I being who I want to be right now?
  • Have a clear mission. My mission is helping successful leaders get even better.
  • If you want to be successful, follow people who know what they are doing. Try to be like your heroes because they represent your “real values.”
  • Marshall asked the audience to thank their heroes – send them a note or call them up, tell them they are your hero and why.
  • Ask yourself two questions. Did I do what I thought was right, and did I do my best? If the answer is yes, I did what I thought was right and I did my best, that’s all you can do.
  • We’re not here on earth to prove we’re smart or right. We’re here to make a positive difference.
  • As I’ve gotten older, my level of aspiration is going down and down, but my impact up and up. Why? I quit worrying about what I’m not going to change.
  • Show a little humility and have a little fun. Try to make a positive difference but don’t get so hung up.
  • The first person you need to forgive is you (self-forgiveness).
  • Everything you have was inherited from previous versions of you. Ask how can you earn it?
  • Marshall asked the audience to write a letter to the “future you.” One year from today, what do you want to give to the future you?
  • Hindu philosophy – Never get fixated on results. When we get our ego attached to results we’re headed for trouble.
  • Just let go. Accept what you can’t change. Acceptance of what is – you don’t have to like or agree with it.
  • Pragmatic optimism – face the reality that exists and ask what you can do with it.

Click on the link to register for other standout sessions – WBECS 2020 Full Summit

And most of all, in these unsettled times, do take care of yourself –  keep well and keep safe.

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Emerging Leaders – Influencing Skills Online Course

Influencing Skills for Emerging Leaders  Online Course is now open for enrolment.

Visit this page to learn more about the course:

You will learn about how to:

  • Better understand your stakeholder drivers so they can hear your message
  • Become clearer about you bring to the table and how to best complement your stakeholder needs
  • Engage better and build positive relationships with your customers, colleagues and other stakeholders quickly including remotely
  • Be more willing to have the courageous conversations you have been avoiding
  • Grow your confidence and step up in your career and as a person and leader
  • Build your emotional intelligence, including self-awareness and relationship skills

I am only accepting a small intake and the application deadline is the end of August. I am limiting numbers to make sure I end up with a small group of people who are as motivated as possible, so everyone has a valuable, transformative experience.

Once all the pilot spots or the application deadline ends, I won’t be taking any more students until the next cohort.

Here’s the link to enrol:

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Your Well-Being is Paramount

The last few months, I have had conversations with clients, colleagues and friends who shared similar things. 

The common themes have been – dealing with change and transitions, navigating through the unknown, fear and uncertainty about the future, and feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. For managers and leaders, it has been about managing and leading through the unknown.

Given the current upheaval in the world, it is only natural that many of us are experiencing some pretty intense feelings and emotions.

Yes – even the most resilient ones amongst us have been affected.

This is quite normal.

We are in a situation of change and flux.  

In the business arena alone, we are confronting a range of scenarios.

Sadly, for some, the response is, “What business?’’ 

For many others, it is paddling hard just to stay afloat all; while still others have made this into a time of opportunity and possibilities and are doing really well personally and in business.

Whatever other stressors there were before, COVID – 19 was not one we had in the equation!

Be aware of your self-talk

With mental health and well-being high on the agenda for many now, I was taken back to my days of working in the mental health field as a clinical psychologist some decades back.

If you are experiencing some strong negative emotions, here’s a small step you can take to not compound matters.

Firstly, give yourself permission and accept your feelings and reactions – whatever they are – as being normal.

And secondly, be mindful to not overlay feeling bad about whatever it is that you are experiencing.

In other words, feeling bad about feeling bad!  

This only exacerbates the negative feelings such as worry, anxiety or depression.

In the current context of ambiguity, uncertainty and change, be mindful that you are not:

  • Being overly self-critical
  • Judging yourself harshly
  • Maintaining high expectations of self
  • Comparing yourself with those others who seem to be coping well
  • Wanting things to be back to ‘normal’
  • Getting in the grip of avoidant or other default unhelpful behaviours
  • Shutting off from others

Instead, cut yourself some slack and be kind to you – as YOU would be to your best friend.

Reach out and connect. Ask for that helping hand be it at work or from family and friends who love and care about you and your well-being.

The new normal

Give yourself permission to do things differently. 

Old rules may not apply.

Experiment but also do what works for you.  

This can also be a time for fresh beginnings. Ask yourself, “What do I, really, really want or need right now?”

Take good care of yourself especially with others relying on you for leadership and support.

As per the airline safety message before take-off (in the days we used to fly lots!), “Put your own oxygen mask first!”

Go well.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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What NOT to do in Influencing Your Stakeholders

Learning to influence our stakeholders with greater impact is even more critical now with many more of us working remotely.

Perhaps you can relate to this story about Amanda. I have changed her name for privacy reasons.

Amanda is a talented and bright emerging leader in her thirties.  She is fully engaged in her job and loves the company and what it stands for. Furthermore, she is respected and well-liked by her peers and colleagues. They see her as an approachable colleague and someone fun to work with.

The challenge Amanda has is her struggle to have her voice heard when it counts. When she has an important proposal to get across the line with her superiors, she loses confidence.

She feels that her ideas are not taken seriously despite knowing her area and the business so well.  Her thoughts and concepts get glossed over.

The final straw for her was with her last proposal.

This time Amanda felt pretty confident that her stakeholder – her manager – was going to ‘get it.’ In her mind, not only were the benefits obvious, but he also knew her well, including her passion, work ethics, strengths, and weaknesses.

However, this is not what happened when she presented her plan in his office.  He rejected it.  Yes – a rejection.  A definite NO!

Amanda was left feeling confused and somewhat crushed. Her dominant thought was, “Here we go again!” Her confidence knocked, she started doubting herself and her abilities.

So, what did Amanda miss?

She had assumed that her manager knew her so well, including her thinking on the issue and would, therefore, support her.

However, the manager’s current needs and priorities along with the bigger context the business was operating in were things that Amanda had overlooked.

By not taking this into account, her plan fell flat.

Can you relate to this?  Has this or something similar ever happened to you?

Have you ever been left confused as to why people above you, even your colleagues, could not see the value of what you were bringing to the table?

Your ideas and proposal got minimized or worse, discounted.

That is frustrating and disheartening.  It hurts.

You are left feeling that you are not a valued member of the team. You start doubting your abilities, even questioning your future commitment to the organization.

It may also leave you doubting your communication skills.  Moreover, your proposal is not as good as you think it is! You find yourself imprisoned in a downward spiral of self-criticism, doubts, and feelings of failure.

While these feelings are real and understandable, this is not the full picture.  There is a missing piece here as Amanda discovered during our conversation.

There is a more profound insight that will give you the results you want without you feeling like a failure and requiring them to ‘care more’ about what you are presenting.


Because there is a way that you can tap into what they already care about and what matters most to them.

Let me give you a crucial insight here and what needs to happen instead.

It is about having a greater awareness of yourself and your stakeholders.

For example, with your stakeholder – what do you know about their needs and priorities, their strengths and blind spots and the contextual pressures they have on them. Taking these into account will help place you in a more impactful position.


I am planning to share ideas in the form of an online course that will help you step up in your leadership, including your ability to influence more effectively.

Ideas which can position you as someone whose insights are respected, valued, and treasured.

You can begin to establish your role as someone who is a problem solver and solution provider.

This course will be open to a small group of participants.

Registrations will be limited to only 25 students.

The first five to register will get a BONUS copy of my expanded leadership development guide.

Keep an eye here, if you would like to register (or send us your email so we can be in touch).


P.S. Get your free copy of your Stakeholder Analysis Template. This will help you prepare well as you consider aspects from the perspective of your stakeholder before your presentation to them.

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How to Have Greater Leadership Impact

Do you sometimes struggle to get heard and taken more seriously?

Are you left questioning as to how you can influence your boss (or another stakeholder) more effectively?

Is influencing those you have to work with and yet have little authority over a challenge?
(Even more so now if you are working remotely!)

Is your more introverted nature getting in the way of you having your rightful ‘air time?’

Or perhaps the person you need to influence the most is yourself?

Well – these were the very statements made by over a hundred managers and emerging leaders in response to my question:

“What is a skill that you need the most in your leadership journey right now?”

These managers and leaders wanted to be acknowledged and taken seriously.

They wanted to grow their confidence and become better communicators and influencers. They wanted to be seen, recognised for their strengths and have a more significant leadership impact.

The more I heard about these issues, the more I thought about putting together a program that would let me help others using the experiences that I’ve had both personally and professionally.

As a female, growing up in an Indian family, I had to learn to find my voice.

Professionally – as a clinical and then an organisational psychologist, I have worked with both corporate and SME managers and leaders overcome their barriers and create greater leadership impact.

The feedback I received – as per above – led me to do some pilot courses designed to help upcoming managers and leaders who were eager, talented and motivated and who were keen to develop themselves.
So, let me pause here and check-in with you.

Bring a stakeholder to mind that you would like to influence the most.

With that stakeholder in mind, answer the following:

What do I need to learn that will help me the most in influencing them?

If you (or someone in your network) is interested in solving this problem, drop me a note and let me know if you would like more on this topic.


P.S. Get your free copy of your Stakeholder Analysis Template. This will help you prepare well as you consider aspects from the perspective of your stakeholder before your presentation to them.

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This will transform the way you coach

A heads up!

Are you enjoying the FREE WBECS Pre-Summit?

Who has been your favourite speaker?

I have certainly valued the insights I gained from the sessions that I attended.

If you’re interested in registering for the Full Summit, you can find out everything the Full Summit has to offer and secure your ticket at half off the regular price here.

WBECS has truly gone above and beyond with their package offerings this year.

The Super Early Bird price for the Full Summit is only available until June 25th. If you’d like to save 50%, up to $750 on their most popular Pro Coach Membership, I highly recommend you join now.

If you looking to create an even bigger impact for your clients, see better retention rates and consistently grow your coaching business then WBECS has all the resources you need to achieve just that!

Look forward to seeing you in some of the sessions.

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Career and Life Reflections

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

Covid-19 certainly upended our lives as we knew it. It caught us by surprise and struck us on many levels; some good and some challenging.

While some of us have returned to work; others have no work to return to.

It has raised more profound questions about what matters in life and how we could do and be better at work, home and in our communities.

This week I had several conversations with clients, colleagues and friends who highlighted the relevance of the message in my book, “Get Your Groove Back” – How Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) can give you the work and life you really want.

It brought back one of the most powerful memories for me some years after the book was launched. I was at an overseas conference and walking across the lobby for morning tea when a total stranger sidled up to me and whispered, “Your book saved my life!”

Seeing the surprised look on my face, he proceeded to explain that a Kiwi friend had sent him a copy and it was just what he needed during that challenging patch in his life.

If you are wondering about your next career and life steps, here are some reflective questions from the book, which might help.

Your life story 

  • What have been your greatest moments of fulfilment?
  • What would you choose as the three most critical choices in your life?
  • How have these defining moments impacted your sense of self and career?
  • If you were narrating your life story to someone, what sort of story would it be? What might be the title?
  • Is there an underlying theme in your story?
  • How have you changed in the last ten years?
  • How has your cultural background contributed to who you are?
  • What strengths have you discounted, taken for granted or underutilised?
  • What gives you a sense of being alive, excited and or grounded?
  • What things are changing in your life right now?
  • What are you welcoming, and what are you saying good-bye to?

Take care as you navigate your next steps.

For more guidance and to order a copy of “Get Your Groove Back” visit  –

Posted in Careers, Dealing with change | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Develop Your Coaching in 2020


For the last seven years,  I have attended and promoted WBECS – the World Business and Executive Coach Summit and it has always proved to be a top learning opportunity.

WBECS is a live, online summit featuring over 40 of the most brilliant minds in coaching.

I’m a firm believer that continued education and growth are crucial for long-term success.

The world-class presenters at WBECS cover a wide range of topics in structured learning tracks including

  • Team Coaching
  • Coaching Methodologies
  • Remote coaching
  • Neuroscience and change
  • Leadership
  • Organisational development

The complementary free summit runs from 26 May to June 17. You are welcome to register for as many sessions as you’d like!

Here are just a few examples of the live sessions you can choose from when you join the complimentary Pre-Summit:

  • Michael Bungay Stanier – Easy Change vs Hard Change
  • Marcia Reynolds – Coaching Widespread Fear: Using Non-Reactive Empathy To Uplift Perspective
  • Gretchen Rubin – Understand Yourself (and Others) with the ‘Four Tendencies’ Personality Framework
  • David Peterson – Awareness in Action: Preparing Yourself — and Your Clients! — for a Better Future – Part 1
  • David Clutterbuck and Peter Hawkins – Coach-Led Q&A: Team Coaching with David Clutterbuck and Peter Hawkins

Plus so many more!

Interested? Then reserve your spot for the complimentary WBECS Pre-summit today!

(You can also register for the full summit which is a paid, longer learning experience spread between July 15 till April 2021).

I promise – you will find the WBECS summit incredibly valuable.

Please feel free to share this wonderful learning opportunity with others who you think will benefit from attending.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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