Soft skills: aka transferable skills, behavioural competencies, interpersonal, or people skills - they don’t sound very, well, serious, do they? asks Carol McLachlan.
Without the gravitas of achieving expert status in iXBRL, FRS or ISA, is it any wonder they come a poor second to our technical prowess? What self-respecting accountant is going to put their CPD investment into enhancing their social graces and honing their personal habits?
Soft skills: “a sociological term relating to a person's EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterise relationships with other people” – a helpful lyrical waxing, courtesy of our friends at Wikipedia.
It’s a conviction that runs deep. The innate dominance of technical competence over the softer stuff is firmly entrenched in the accountancy womb. When I sat my Thatcher-era PE2, I was examined on my proficiency in those old stalwarts Financial Management, Management Accounting and their equally heavy weight colleagues. Not too far away from the topics on today’s CCAB syllabi. Even in the 21st century, as accountants, we’d hardly be taking papers in emotional intelligence, communication or optimism, would we?