Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham, co-hosts of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, have written the first book that explores all 55 soft skills. Drawn from academic research and their business experience, this book provides employees and organizations with the first comprehensive list of the 55 soft skills that guide them toward growth and innovation.

The book, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, is an outgrowth of the authors’ extensive research into soft skills, those hard-to-teach skills that are better developed through experience and mentoring. Soft skills are developed through interacting with other people and include written and oral communication, emotional/social intelligence, good listening, being able to delegate effectively, leading change and teamwork.

The authors developed the list of 55 soft skills after reviewing hundreds of articles in academic journals.

Each soft skill is the focus of a chapter in the book.

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Book cover

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An Excerpt from The Introduction

If you don’t know what soft skills are, you aren’t alone. People ask us that question all the time.

Let’s start there. Soft skills are not technical skills the aptitude, knowledge and expertise that enable you to perform work. Colleges and universities, and even high schools, focus most of their attention on teaching technical skills, which can easily be assessed. Think about things like an algebraic formula, the rules for using commas, preparing a financial statement or tax form. The steps are clear; the outcome is clear.

Soft skills are different. They are somewhat nebulous. The situations in which they are applied greatly influence how they are used and which ones to use. What works in one situation probably won’t work in the next situation. Think of the skills you need to use to be an effective team member or colleague, skills like listening, empathy, being persuasive, being a leader and leading change in an organization, to name a few. How to lead a team on a project changes from project to project. With one group, you have to offer constant reminders; with another, it might be constant feedback or praise. And you wont know until you get into the situation and try things.

Surprise, Surprise

Over the last two years, we have uncovered a list of  55 soft skills. Yes, the number surprised us, too. We even find it difficult, even as the creators of the comprehensive list of soft skills, to remember them all.

We fell into our study of soft skills after noticing and talking frequently about how the effective use of these skills helped us. (Okay, in some cases, we would discuss how weaknesses in some soft skills hurt us.) We started to study them more closely, watching for them in our lives and the people around us. In 2016, we set out to uncover a complete list of soft skills. We expected to find 10 or 15. But we identified 55 of them from scouring research dating back to the 1970s. We originally had closer to 75, but some researchers used different words to say the same thing. For instance, we agreed that managing people and being a good manager are the same thing.

To say we were gobsmacked by our discovery would be to put it mildly.

Don’t Be Scared

This book is our way of sharing that comprehensive list and how each might appear in the workplace. If you are like we are, you will like knowing the full spectrum of soft skills.

Don’t let this list scare you off. Soft skills when blended with technical skills are the key to success for employees and organizations. That blending is what employers crave because it provides the impetus for true innovation and collaboration.

Dig into the List

Unfortunately, not a lot of options exist to help your understanding and development of your soft skills or those of your team. We are building an array of tools as we write this introduction. Keep visiting our website and podcasts to learn more.

But whatever you do, don’t walk away from soft skills. Employees and organizations that fail to see the growing value of soft skills and their blending with technical skills to achieve greater results are putting themselves at a huge disadvantage. Don’t fall into that trap. We have now warned you.

The Bones and a Bit of Meat

This book is not intended to be a feast of soft skills. Rather, this book is designed to whet your appetite and open your eyes to the breadth of soft skills. The following pages offer our list of 55 different soft skills, along with a bit of context so you can appreciate how and why they made our list of 55.

If we have done our job well, then you should walk away from this book with a deeper understanding and appreciation of how soft skills fit into your career and the success of organizations.

As we say at the end of each of our Serious Soft Skills podcasts, good soft skills!