How do you become successful in your career? The key to success is producing superior results consistently. And to provide such results, you need several skills. That is pretty much the secret to the success of millions of successful professionals.
But once you understand that “skills are at the heart of your long-term sustainable success,” the next question is which skills? By developing the right skills, you can focus on them more strategically. By picking up the most critical ones fast, you can turbo-charge your career. As you build skills, your results will change, and your organization will see you in a new light. And this virtuous cycle leads to success.
Three Type of Skills
There are three different types of skills you need to succeed in your career.
The first set is domain skills. These skills are mostly knowledge and mental models of your functional domain. If you are a finance professional, some of your domain skills would include accounting, auditing, forecasting and planning, project management, and information systems. If you are a marketing professional, these skills include copywriting, media strategy, and marketing strategy. Similarly, professionals in every functional domain need a set of domain skills. Without these skills, you cannot create ‘functional excellence.’
The second set of skills is industry knowledge and mental models. If you are in banking, you need to understand the financial services industry. You need to know the way various banking businesses work. What drives profits and growth in transaction services businesses, loans and credit, investment banking and so on. You will need to understand the industry structure, competition, the environmental forces affecting the company, and so on.
Some people underestimate the industry skills and focus on domain skills more. But industry skills are akin to the edge of a sword which enables you to drive it through the hardest problem. Conversely, if you lack industry skills and only possess domain skills, you will be a blunt sword that is ineffective.
Both these skills involve building mental models, knowledge base, and domain expertise. You develop them over the years rather than quickly. The more in-depth your skills in the functional domain and industry knowledge, the more impact you can produce. And as you climb the career ladder you begin to accumulate more of these skills.
The third set of skills is what is needed to become a more effective business leader. These are business management skills that allow you to manage complex situations with flair. They allow you to approach challenges and opportunities in a superior manner. These skills will enable you to think, act, make decisions, and communicate excellently. While the domain excellence is the sword, and the industry skill is the sharp edge of that sword, business skills are the swordsmanship skills. Without these skills, you just won’t be able to use the best sword to win a fight.
In my recent ebook The Seven Disciplines of highly Successful Business leaders, I identified seven skills that fall in this third set. If you want to become a business or a functional leader, you need to build these skills. If you develop industry skills and domain skills but fail to develop management skills, you will be disadvantaged in a big way. It will be impossible for you to succeed at business leadership without them.
The Seven Business Skills
These seven are as follows:
- Business Acumen: It is the ability to make superior business decisions fast and efficiently. This capability helps you make money and is at the center of every astute business professional.
- Strategic orientation: This is your ability to see the organization, business, and the industry in a strategic manner. It gives you a big picture view that is essential for managing organizations and businesses.
- Strategic thinking skill: This allows you to work with absolute clarity in a messy and cluttered world. It allows you to find the heart of the matter in every situation. Strategic thinking is what senior managers use to build compelling solutions for vexing business problems.
- Innovation Management: This skill allows you to drive and lead innovation and change. It allows you to go beyond creating good ideas to building organizations that develop breakthroughs.
- Managing self: It will enable you to develop self-awareness and self-knowledge. It helps you stay calm and present in highly stressful situations. It allows you to use your talent and your weaknesses to win in different contexts.
- Managing others: This skill gives you an ability to lead teams and energize others. It allows you to manage larger groups and make them all move toward a common goal.
- Strategic Communication: At the heart of this skill is an ability to communicate effectively in different types of situations and with different types of audience. Strategic Communication involves your ability to structure thoughts, tell stories, and connect with others through your words.
You can read more about these seven skills and how they enable you to become a more successful business leader in my latest book. It is available for free download now.
Building the Right Skill Set
Usually, people take time to develop industry and domain skills because it involves accumulating a lot of mental models and knowledge. But you can accelerate your path to management skills. In fact, I have been training aspiring business leaders in business schools and corporations on these seven skills for over a decade. Recently, I introduced an online business leadership academy where you can learn these skills quickly. Learn more about the academy here.
A skill-based view is highly beneficial for a long-term career success. It helps you not only chart your career but also measure your development over time. If you aim to go far in your career, you need to develop three sets of skills – domain skills, industry skills, and management skills. Consider carefully charting your career to acquire all three skills.