One of the most mentioned attributes when speaking of professionals is excellence. But which professional skills suit best into the quest for this holy grail?

We could think that excellence lies in both academic and professional expertise. That is, a path of study, learning, command and, eventually, practical implementation. Another approach is to believe that excellence is based on more emotional aptitudes. In this case, reason plays a supporting role while human interests are at the forefront. Both trends have too many blind spots, since virtue isn’t usually rooted on extremes.

At this point, we remember the classic division of the brain into a rational side and a creative side. Even though this theory has its shortcomings, it helps us understand that it has always been a matter of confrontation between these two natures. It’s time to reconcile them, to ran away from the caricaturing of society that divides it or turns people into bookworms or imaginative, unaccountable scroungers.

The Simpsons already predicted it

Speaking of caricaturing, we should mention TV’s most famous family. The Simpsons, as if they were some sort of digital-age Nostradamus, have also demonstrated what kind of skills are valued by both professionals and organizations.

We could think of Lisa, the family’s middle daughter, as an example of excellence. Smart and musically talented, she has also showed her sportive abilities in some episodes. Her rational side is more than nurtured. But she’s not reached excellence. Lisa’s got a problem: her lack of charisma, communication and socializing skills. The anti-intellectualism reigning in Springfield always gives her the cold shoulder.

Homer, father of the family and the yellow example of a charismatic person, is on the opposite side. So much so that he is the leader of his group of colleagues, manages to duck out work, and get away with the most delirious situations. He leaves much to be desired as role model, of course, since he doesn’t know the meaning of the word responsibility and, what’s more important, he doesn’t want to know anyway.

Are responsibility and charisma the skills companies look for in a professional, then? The answer is yes, although it’s not so simple. These two extremely open concepts imply many aspects, also influenced by the prevailing culture, technology and digital trends.

As a side note, we should pay close attention to the role of Maggie Simpson. This baby may be what companies are looking for.

Professional skills to achieve balance

This review of the Simpson family teaches us a lesson: nothing is so simple that it can be reduced to an archetype. A professional is excellent because he knows how to develop his diverse facets simultaneously and, mainly, adapt to daily eventualities.

These facets change from time to time, even more in sectors that wave the flag of innovation. Luckily, personal balance knows about customization, so it’s not difficult to examine the emerging skills associated to it.

Knowing and applying all your skills

Ironic as it seems, the first skill a professional seeking balance should learn is how to structure all his abilities. Some sort of archive with different folders that we can revisit as it is required.

Focusing all efforts in just one skill is not a recipe for success anymore. We’re in the age of multitasking, and that requires to respond efficiently before diverse situations. It’s almost like switching over. And it’s not only about logical thinking: emotional thinking and the most human responses we’re capable of come into play as well.

A look into the future

Large international companies bet on workers who want to make the world a better place. Why is it so? Because they’ll be the ones who will lead the way of global change, not only of their personal interests.

Professionals become not only defenders of their own balance, but global demonstrators of what might be done to improve and provide an answer to common necessities; a factor which is perfectly compatible with the skills of a leader.

Inspiring ideas: Finland

Finland, a country with extensive experience regarding work-life balance, seeks to train a fifth part of its population on Artificial Intelligence. This digital crusade draws from a commitment among Government, universities and the entrepreneurial environment of the country, with diverse initiatives to educate a million citizens.

This country shows again that training on “Machine Learning, Human Learning” will become an essential skill in the future. Given Finland’s exporting ability of ideas about balancing, it’s more than likely that it will be replicated all over the world soon.

Soft Skills in times of balance

Soft skills, those who are not related to specific knowledge required for a certain job position, have a lot to bring to the table in terms of professional balance. Particularly, according to the Udemy for Business 2019 report, critical thinking and power of concentration.

Concentrating before so many external stimuli (social media, email, instant news feed) is a very well-valued skill, as it is the ability to examine, comprehend and assess every situation, no matter how complex it may be.

In other words, excellence in this context is a professional capable of giving his 100%, but who knows how to switch off and recover strength during his leisure and enjoyment periods.

Success that came from the emotional

A time-lagged study of emotional intelligence and salary” is a report conducted by diverse American universities and ESSEC business school. The conclusion is clear: professionals capable of managing their emotions, and of knowing those of their teams and leaders, provide better response to professional requirements. And they have a more efficient discourse when asking from help regarding personal needs.

Interpersonal skills were previously studied as an improvement regarding communication between teams and leaders, but little by little organizations give increasing value to their employees’ ability to voice their desires and personal criteria. Talent retention requires a bidirectional conversation, a point of understanding between professionals and companies.

The study also reveals that, the better we manage our emotions, the better we accept criticism and the more productive we become to carry out any given task.

Team culture? I’ll take three, please

Leadership skills differ from team culture. This term resembles more the concept of family than anything corporate-related. Work teams are families with a set of values, rules and the ability to convey what they think and want easily.

This skill is directly related with the previous one: adapting the tone of communication according to each situation, being aware of the duties and needs of colleagues, and even pulling together in the same direction. Creating synergies is much easier in a family than among a bunch of unknown people.

Professional skills, personal capabilities

After looking over one of the longest-running animated series, the concept of excellence and the skills to achieve it, we can conclude that any human capability that makes our work duties easier is valid in order to find balance. Said balance has a lot to do with making work and life circumstances easier.

Sources : Blackie Books, The New York Times, Retina, The New York Times, El País, BBVA