Tag Archives: Corporate Culture

You say hard, I say soft – Combined Skills Best for Success

In my consulting business I’ve faced much resistance from clients when I focus on the so-called ‘soft skills’, so I’m delighted when I see that even ‘big names’ like Forbes and McKinsey include them in their lists of essential skills for success. I also feel somewhat vindicated that at last companies are taking cognizance and making the move to including soft skills like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, communication, problem solving and innovation into the ‘hard skills’ mix.

Keep learning, combining skill types for better performance

I believe that the ‘hard’ skills of structuring, strategising, leadership, decision-making and information technology can only be successful if driven by the company’s values and culture. It’s not only about what the company says and does, it’s about how it’s done. And that’s where the ‘soft’ skills come in.

All company actions must be in keeping with the company’s values and its specific culture. This applies to even the smallest of companies deemed unaware of or unaffected by corporate governance issues. They too can benefit from developing the ‘soft’ skills in business.

According to McKinsey’s 7-S [Skills] framework for success, the company’s ‘hard’ action elements, those processes used to run the company – their Strategy, Structure, Systems – must reflect the company’s stated goals, values and culture. In addition, the company must utilise the ‘soft skills’ – Shared values, Skills, Styles and Staff – to complement and enhance the ‘hard skills’ effectively to achieve success.

For example, if management’s strategy aims to be a successful, forward-thinking, progressive company, it can’t have a top-down management structure and system in place. Managers must include elements of interactive communication (Skill) between themselves and their team (Staff). Their approach and/or Style must encourage communication, information-Sharing, critical thinking and problem solving, leading to innovation, performance and ultimately to success.

Skills for success

A well thought out and synergistic combination of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills is what companies need to achieve success. Thus both soft and hard skill types are essential.

My thoughts on the KPMG reputational crisis

KPMG’s name and reputation remains in crisis and in the headlines. We just can’t stop talking about it. So let’s start learning from it. Having been involved in practising, lecturing and consulting in Corporate Communication, I can’t resist throwing out some of my own thoughts on the matter.

Loss of ethics loss of Reputation

In terms of corporate citizenship, ethical branding, responsible leadership, accountability and reputation, here are my offerings:

  1. For many years now, the King Report has been the go-to document for guidelines on corporate governance, corporate citizenship and responsibility to one’s stakeholders, community, politico-economic and natural environment. Large corporate are obliged to take note and commit to upholding the principles and values contained in the King Report which is constantly being revised  to ensure it remains valid, relevant and current.
  2. Transformational leadership. It’s simple: know what it means. Know the code of conduct. Know how to motivate and inspire. Know the law but act ethically. Know your people and their feelings. Know the truth. Spread the truth.
  3. Reputation management: Every company –small and large – must plan and manage its identity, its values and its behavior in order to manage outcomes and others’ perceptions of it. Only through critical strategic discussions with all stakeholders, including the media, can a company develop a strong positive reputation.
  4. Crisis management – Plan, prepare, strategise for negative disruptive events that impact your operations and your reputation. Without a crisis plan you’re doomed. Public sharing is vital for a reputable organization to gain support. Don’t apologise unless you mean it and are prepared to pay the price.
  5. Corporate culture: Vision, Ethos, Values, Beliefs and Behaviour. Accountability means to take responsibility for one’s decisions and actions and be adaptable to changes in the environment and courageous to stand one’s ground in the midst of potential threats, temptations and challenges. Be purpose- not greed-driven.

Finally, companies should strategise for sustainability. Their strategies must translate into best practice – setting standards and acting as examples for conducting ethical business, based on principles and values of trust, integrity, professionalism, not greed, status and power.

Corporate governance and CSR – is it for REAL?