What are the soft skills I need as my career grows?

What are the soft skills I need as my career grows?

What are the soft skills I need as my career grows?

Hi, I’m Janet Granger, answering the question: “What are the soft skills I need to further my marketing career?”

As you make your way in your marketing career, you will move from being what’s called “an individual contributor,” that means you’re the person doing the work, to managing people: they’re the people that do the work. You manage a person or a team. And when you move from being an individual contributor to being a team leader (or managing people), you often need a very different skill set. 

Here are the four things that I think are the most valuable skills for you to have. 

The first one is Emotional Intelligence. I know that it sounds trite – you can look it up – and people have said it before. But basically you need to understand your own emotions through self-awareness, and what’s called self-regulation, as well as your own motivations, empathy, and you need to have social skills. 

This awareness – this emotional intelligence – will help you when it comes to working with other people, so you can identify where they are emotionally: what stresses them, what doesn’t, the kind of person they are, how they work through things, how they like to work. 

You can help them through these emotional shifts and changes. And it will also help you understand what motivates them, because people are often motivated differently. 

How does that translate into your day-to-day life (when it comes to emotional intelligence)? You use it most of your day: it can be recognizing and dealing with conflict. It might be conflict between people on your team, it might be conflict with a person that you are having yourself, it could be a conflict that someone on your team is having with someone else within the organization. 

It can be how to motivate people and get them to do the work that they need to do. And it can be dealing with difficult situations. Things can happen in an organization and, as you manage your team, you have to help them manage the shifts and changes. Including the messaging that comes down, often through you to them. So emotional intelligence is probably the number one soft skill you need to have. 

The second one is what I call Strategy and that is: you will be the person, most likely, creating and executing on a strategy for your team,  often based on what the goals are for the organization. You’re transferring those goals into marketing activities – so you should be able to conceive of, or create, an overarching strategy for the team that has goals within it. Helping the team understand how to meet those goals to get to the end objective. That’s how it should work –  it doesn’t always work that way, but basically your job managing a marketing team is to achieve the goals of the senior leadership of the organization. 

Skill number three is being an Ongoing Learner. You need to be excited about learning. And if you’re not excited, you need to have the discipline to do it. Digital marketing changes on an hourly basis – it’s like the news cycle. So if you don’t keep up with what’s going on now, you will be left in the dark. 

There’s the risk that your organization will be left in the dark, too, if you’re in a significant enough role. So it’s really important, from a soft skills perspective, that you’re always thinking about how you’re going to learn what’s going on via newsletters or conferences or whatever it is that you choose that’s best for you in your industry. You need to be up on events, what’s changing in marketing all the time. 

The fourth skill is not quite as big as the first three but it does play a part – and that is you need to be a Visionary. You need to be the person who is creating the strategy, and executing on that strategy, and you need to be a leader, and motivate the people to follow along in your vision, whatever that vision. 

If you’re not a visionary person – that can be difficult – and you might want to read some books or take some courses on how to become that visionary person and lead. For example, your team should be very clear on what you expect of them, for them to follow behind you. 

To sum up the four things are: 

  • emotional intelligence 
  • the ability to think and work strategically 
  • being an ongoing learner and 
  • being a visionary and sharing your vision and motivating people with that vision 

That’s what makes or breaks marketing leaders. So if you want to continue on your path, I would work on those skills. I’ve also included some links with some other thoughts, such as networking and initiative, to give you a broader perspective on this. 

I’m Janet Granger, answering the question: “What are the soft skills that I need to further my marketing career?” 

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