Aspire to be a Role Model? Go harder on Soft Skills and softer on Hard Skills!

MBA, Engineering, Medical or any other discipline degrees and technical part of experience can make you a model; but not role model! These give you hard skills and knowledge in a given field, enable you to enter an organization or profession; but take you further only to a limited level!! What really helps you is what makes you to deliver or demonstrate your knowledge and experience i.e. Soft Skills. Everyone picks up soft skills from childhood to adulthood in informal and formal way by undergoing specific training and development. However, irony is that very few notice that it is soft skills, which create wonders in terms of results and effects.

What stand between model and role model are soft skills!

You would find that every management guru talks about focus, grit, ownership, change management, decision making, passion, no giving-up and so on. What is this all about?

Why 2 persons with same qualification and equal experience are so different!

2 bosses, 2 teachers, 2 preachers or 2 leaders, though identical in qualifications and expertise, look or fare very different – one is dynamic and other is docile, one is impressive and other is ineffective, one is loved and other is hated, one is authoritative but other is autocratic!

Such variance is purely attributable to their soft skills!!

Harvard Business School, USA normally rolls out masterpieces; but I have seen some of its past students being very mediocre! Difference comes from their soft skills. Yet, the School stands out compared to many other business schools, as it not only develops subject knowledge; but has built in features of developing soft skills (I am not sure, how much the School knows about it!).

Going harder on hard skills hurts!

No doubt, you do need hard skills. These are essential and create and consolidate your knowledge in a given field. But, if you keep focusing too much on your hard skills, you would start to lose out in real world. You would run eminent risk of becoming:

  • Aloof
  • Inflexible
  • Unrealistic
  • Unfriendly
  • Narrowly focused

Therefore, most of toppers in colleges or holders of many degrees do not top in their career or personal lives.

Why you hang around hard skills

Whole world hangs around hard skills for one simple reason. These are objective and related to real objects or activities that can be measured. This develops a mindset that I cannot survive without these, though it is only partly true. On the other hand, soft skills are subjective and you tend to believe that one can do without these.

Hard skills have clear definition, whereas soft skills have vague definitions and subject to lot of interpretations. This is another reason, why many tend to keep away from soft skills.

However, rule of nature is clear –

Degree of “your progress and responsibilities” is inversely proportional to “use of hard skills” and directly proportional to “soft skills”!

Someone may argue that would being harder on both types of skills not yield even better results. Not really; actually it would deteriorate and that’s what above rule also shows!

So, you can only move up, if you reduce your focus on hard skills and put more force behind soft skills.

Soft skill is software of your life!

You can easily draw a parallel with computers or smart hand held/lap devices. Hard skill is like hardware of these devices, which cannot function without software i.e. soft skills. If soft skills of these devises are improved, devices become beautiful and very appealing. This is what Steve Jobs did for i-products of Apple!

So, you have your life, which has your physical body and all what you can count – your degrees, age, experience, money and belongings. But, these are no more than hardware of a computer. Software of your life is actually soft skills in form of your qualities and character, which when combined with the said hardware create real value and worth for your life!

Mother seed for soft skills

There are 2 key skills, which together form the seed of harvesting and harnessing other soft skills:

  • Sincerity
  • Focus

It is important that Sincerity and Focus be treated like 2 sides of same coin i.e. should go hand in hand; otherwise real impact would be lost!

If people around the world generally fail to fructify soft skills and go in circles or back and forth, it is because they do not first develop these 2 key skills simultaneously. Having other soft skills with none or part of these 2 skills is like having no or poor operating system (OS) in your computer or smart phone!

Only when you are sincere and focused at the same time, former would give birth to solid ownership, honesty, empathy, enthusiasm, gratitude, patience and so on. Latter part of this combination would develop strong passion, dedication, innovation, attention to details, courage, confidence, sharp memory etc.

So, hard skills constructs only a model in you; but going harder on soft skills catapults you to Role Model. And the mother seed of all skills is “your Sincerity to the core + Focus on contents like 2 sides of same coin!”

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  • Sudhir Agashe
    Aug 27,2013 at 9:57 am

    Very true and interesting also to know the fact of life. Caring others can only create joy in today’s world. Nicely said thank you so much for great thoughts!!

    Currently we in COEP are also running a program called “EAGLE” Energising Accelerated Growth and Leadership Excellence for all 765 students of third year engineering. The focus is on developing life skills which are essential to learn through a formal process. Hope to listen to you in one of such sessions.

    • Aug 27,2013 at 10:12 pm

      I feel very thankful to you for your illustrious views and feedback!

      I am very pleased to know that you are running, what I can see from the title, a very significant program. I would be happy to share my thoughts in one of the sessions.

  • Rudra
    Aug 20,2013 at 12:42 am

    So can we say this… just like a computer that can not run without either Hardware or Software, in the same way a human’s life is not worth without a proper blend of Hard skills and Soft skills?

    Nice idiosyncratic read indeed… eccentric!! 🙂


    • Aug 20,2013 at 3:13 pm

      Many thanks for your views! I would like to supplement that both need to co-exist; but in most cases, the relevance and importance of software i.e. soft skills are far more for survival and successes!!

  • Sandip Chavan
    Aug 19,2013 at 3:52 pm

    Very nice article. lots of things to understand and follow to go further in life.
    Thanks !!!!!

    Sandip Chavan

    • Aug 19,2013 at 4:29 pm

      I can’t thank you enough for your positive feedback and views to take the leaf and go further in life!

  • Murli Lohia
    Aug 17,2013 at 9:49 pm

    Subject: RE: Aspire to be a Role Model? Go harder on Soft Skills and
    softer on Hard Skills!

    Date: Sat, August 17, 2013 1:57 pm


    Greetings. Thank you for the nice article. Interestingly, 2 days ago, my colleague and friend at work, forwarded me a link to a TED Talk on the subject.
    I thought of sharing it with you.

    With best regards, Chalapati Rao


    Here is the link for Shashi Tharoor TED Talk I mentioned to you:


    • Aug 17,2013 at 9:51 pm

      I appreciate your views and thank you a lot for sharing the link!!

  • Murli Lohia
    Aug 17,2013 at 3:14 pm

    Transferred from LinkedIn

    Ram Chandra Chakraborty

    Managing Director at AIS INDIA

    On 08/17/13 1:27 AM, Ram Chandra Chakraborty wrote:

    Thank you very much Sir! A brillint article! Will be very helpful to those who are open to learning!

    • Aug 17,2013 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks a lot! I highly value your feedback!!

    Aug 17,2013 at 1:41 pm

    Well said sir !

    I agree with your words and would like to add here that every human being is unique in his ability to handle his hard and soft skills, and can be very different from another person of same profession.

    As you compare two peoples of same profession I would like to take some examples which identifies as a persons with differing hard and soft skills in the same nature of profession has achieved excellence in their field.

    Software world
    1.) Bill Gates 2.) Steve Jobs

    Wolrd biggest socialists
    1.) Mahatma Gandhi 2.) Nelson Mandela

    Worlds Most Popular Leaders
    1.) Winston Churchill 2.) Abraham Lincoln

    Above are the few names who have their own strengths and weakness with different soft skills (however , the hard skils are common) but still achieved a Prominent place in their own spaces.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful thought which is a need of time for every one (specially tecnocrats) to thing beyond his/or her technical skils towards soft skills.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Prateek Singhvi

    • Aug 17,2013 at 3:01 pm

      Very impressive! You have orchestrated your thoughts very well!!

      True; every human would be unique and this uniqueness does not come by entirely new soft skill, which we do not know! It comes from the fact that relative proportion of each skill would always be different from person to person and that is how each one looks different!

      You have cited very appropriate examples of pairs of well known people in identical profession or pursuits. Each one in the pair did it differently but got similar success. The secrets – the ingredients were more or less same (type of soft skills); but proportions differed to make their recipes different!!

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