30 May 2012

Tackling the Emotional, Ethical and Social

Several weeks ago I blogged about the importance of developing “breadth” skills as a means of career advancement in the current professional labour market.

To recap briefly, these skills refer to the important cognitive, behavioural and social abilities that are becoming increasingly valued by employers. This week I want to touch briefly on the importance of three key “breadth” areas - emotional, ethical and social competencies. These are the skills that enable you to tackle ethical dilemmas that are always present in professional life and reason your way through them based upon assumptions you believe are right. These competencies also enable you to practice cross-cultural sensitivity and to possess an emotional awareness of others who come from different cultural backgrounds. In an increasingly globalised economy, such abilities are vital when it comes to interacting positively with foreign counterparts and avoiding the type of offence that can be caused through unwittingly insensitive comments or actions.

Unlike inherent personality traits (that is, things like emotional stability or openness to new experiences) “breadth” skills, though related to emotion, can be taught. Indeed, these are performance-related attributes that can be sharpened and developed through exposure to experiential learning. It is possible to make someone a more capable and critical thinker by making them aware of their own cogitative frameworks and by encouraging them to engage critically with received ideas and evidence. It is possible to develop someone’s listening and verbal communication skills. It is possible to improve their ethical awareness and propensity for ethical reasoning. Crucially, our Masters-level programs focus heavily on fostering these increasingly relevant abilities.

When it comes to career risk management in times of extreme fluidity and flux, few strategies can match the compilation of a solid “depth” and “breadth” skills balance. It’s an approach that also offers the possibility of capitalising on any opportunities that present.

Author: Professor John Shields - Postgraduate and Master of Commerce Program Director

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