27.07.2023 Today’s Inspiration from the Wall Street Journal: The “Soft” and “Hard” Sides of Bruce Brown’s “Power Skills”
How many of you think of soft, or “power” skills when hearing about multi-million dollar basketball contracts? Probably not many, since you may tend to associate hoops players with another kind of “power,” their ability to compete physically, both offensively and defensively “on the court.”
Yet, it’s not simply those kinds of “power” skills that get noticed in sports. Bruce Brown of the Indiana Pacers (admittedly with a wing span of 6’9″, or 2.06 meters, for those of you across the pond) is getting praised for his collegial style, positive attitude and collaborative behaviors, which literally “bid up” his “asking price” as a free agent.
Hard data is one way to measure employee performance. But so are soft skills. They’re the reason a role player is now the highest-paid player on his NBA team.
At 26 years old and 6’4″ (1.93 meters), it’s how Brown relates to his colleagues that has captured the attention of the NBA (National Basketball Association) and fans.
For example, the article above mentions the following highlights [which I’ve translated into ways these might impact an ambitious international student like you, in your first global role]:
- Brown succeeds in “amplifying the success of ‘the stars around him’ “(not needing to be recognized as “the star” himself), [which means a student is comfortable with teamwork and doesn’t always have to be the leader]
- He’s described as helping to “make people who are the very best at what they do slightly better“ [which could mean a tech-savvy candidate volunteers to help the Chief Marketing Officer implement
- a new AI app]
- He “handled the grunt work” that others didn’t want to [meaning a new hire might take on the annoyingly-detailed administrative project that everyone else has put off doing]
- Brown “embraced the selfless defense assignment of making life miserable for the other team’s players” [which might mean volunteering to negotiate with a difficult supplier for a better service rate]
- He made himself a “key piece of organizational culture by coming in with a smile on his face” [meaning a young professional maintained a sense of humor and perspective to maintain and convey a consistently-positive spirit, even during difficult times]
- Brown is noted as being the “one colleague who has a knack for asking the one inspired question that can improve an entire project” [akin to a new hire’s stepping back, while listening carefully, then using her analytical skills to suggest an innovative way to solve a problem]
- “A connector who knows everyone in the office, “Brown understands the value of relationship-building and internal networking [just like a young professional who takes the time to meet everyone he’ll be working with, at any level]
- And it doesn’t hurt that Brown is the “hero who brings cupcakes on a random Tuesday, just because,” [like a new employee who arranges an impromptu surprise party for another team member]
- Team scouts commend Brown’s “versatility” [which a new hire can show through being flexible and adaptable to unexpected changes]
- Brown has also been lauded for his “comfort defending multiple positions” [which could translate to working with-or through-a few challenging teammates to complete a time-sensitive project]
- Lastly, Brown is humble, surprised by his own success, and openly admitting “I had to earn this money” [which might be the words to impress the MD in an investment bank when a bright young grad comes aboard]
While Brown certainly has strong enough “hard” skills to contribute meaningfully to the Pacers’ on-court efforts, there’s no replacement for his great interpersonal “power” skills, as shown above.
For candidates (perhaps you!) who may view Brown’s attributes and behaviors as being tangential to his basketball talents, you need only to look at the size of his recent compensation package to recognize just how much his “other” power skills are valued.
May all of you and your fellow aspiring professionals develop and demonstrate similar abilities as you enter the workplace, through learning with our experienced coaches, and reflecting on how you want to interact in a professional setting.