A Vice Chairman of a Wall Street bank once said to me that after you hit a certain level in your career, everyone around you is talented and smart. If those same people were to go home to their extended families, they would likely be one of the most successful people around the dinner table. They're the "LeBron James" of their family circles.
At that point in a career, getting to the next stage is no longer about how smart you are. It's about how you lead and communicate. Can you persuade people around you? Can you attract people to work with you? Are you trustworthy and have a good reputation?
I'm imagining anyone reading this article is wondering if they're at this point.
I've wondered this myself, which is why I decided to ask several CEOs and leaders I know what critical soft skills they use to succeed. Below are 7 of my favorites:
"Empathy. You really got to feel people, you got to feel them. You have got to care about them." - Jack Welch, Founder, Jack Welch Management Institute
"Listening is huge. I think this world has a problem with listening. We have too many people talking at all times, people interrupting each other, not listening, and being okay with it." - Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman, Quicken Loans
"My view is that if you have humility, and you have the ability to be self-effacing, and laugh at yourself, and make people at ease, I view that as true inner confidence." - James Rhee, Chairman & CEO, Ashley Stewart
"Being able to convince people [that] you're going to learn a lot and that working with you and for you is going to increase their knowledge base, their ability to move ahead in the future." - Susan Lyne, President & Founding Partner, BBG Ventures
"Transparency is very important, and I think fairness is very important. If you could be transparent and could be fair...people will follow you." - John Chen, Executive Chairman & CEO, BlackBerry
"I find it really important as a leader to be consistent. I never want to have the people who work with me, who work for me, to be on their heels not knowing who's going to show up that day." - Richard Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
"You must believe in you. If you don't believe in you, you won't have the confidence. If you don't have the confidence, you'll never gather all the competence necessary." - Nido Qubein, President, High Point University
If you want to hear them in their own words, click here to watch their interviews.