Executive Spotlight: The #1 Skill Executives Need To See In Every Employee

Every hiring manager looks for different skills in the job candidates they hope to hire. Job candidates are not only evaluated on the hard skills they possess; They’re also evaluated on their soft skills—skills that aren’t on a resume but can be identified in a job interview. These soft skills are what separate the good employees from the great ones. Executives, managers and other leaders in an organization should keep this in mind when interviewing job candidates and reviewing the performance of current employees.


We recently asked our leading executives what the number one skill they look for in every employee they work for.

Here are their responses…

John Schembury, Senior Education Executive

Growth mindset. We live in a world of constant change. Even the best-laid plans are often altered by unforeseen circumstances. For example. Educators have no choice but to switch to teaching remotely during the pandemic. There was no time to get comfortable with the technology at first—we had to dive in! To stay profitable, most companies need to reinvent services and/or products from time to time, and the most successful employees are always willing to learn new things. A person can teach skills—in many cases the core competencies needed to perform a job. However, unless one can tap into that employee’s inner motivations, it is not easy to get inside one’s head and influence the employee’s will. If a growth mindset is already in place, it makes any change—even critical ones—a little easier to implement.

John Schembury Current K-12 teacher/school leader academic improvement coach and former school building and district administrator. He likes to draw, travel, swing dance and read non-fiction.

John Cox, Advertising & Marketing Executive

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Curiosity is one of the most important things I want from each of my team members.

That is, they must accept the fact that none of us knows everything, and they must be eager to proactively seek out new knowledge to add to their personal toolboxes.

In my team’s work on brand development and activation, and more specifically, digital marketing, the industry, best practices and tools used are constantly changing and evolving. This might include following the latest books, blogs, podcasts, or subject matter experts on LinkedIn.

Collectively, each team member must have a passion for lifelong learning and constantly seek new ways to stretch and grow in their own expertise and execution of their work.

John Cox With 20+ years of excellence in advertising and marketing, Google leverages Google-certified skill sets in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and paid search strategy, web planning and conversion measurement, and creative direction and graphic design.

Mark Taylor, Product & Operations Executive

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Clear, concise written communication. Less is more.

For example, when it comes to project status “Dex”, my expectation is no more than one page (two at one push). So:

1) On-point title: sets the scene.

2) Background: One or two single sentence bullets (the story so far).

3) Status: Three to five single-sentence bullets describing completed tasks since the last update (bad news, please).

4) Next Steps: Two to three bullets detailing key tasks to be done next (win my trust by making sure these tasks are clearly reflected in the “Status” section the next time we update).

Remove each word from the deck until it makes sense as a game.

And don’t confuse ruthless editing with wasted time on “perfection.” The process of creating crystal clear prose without excess fat is a way for you to gain a deeper understanding of the project’s current challenges.

Mark Taylor With 20+ years of risk, technology and product management experience working in global and regional financial services firms in the UK and US, he has managed 40+ teams, successfully resolved 100+ regulatory issues and saved companies $15M+.

Steve Barreault, Global Technical Sales Management

Businessmen discuss sales in a work meeting

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Fortitude in the face of adversity.

Look, sales and field engineering is not for the faint of heart. They are often cheerful, but there is no doubt that they are tough.

Every time you step into a new account (or an existing one), life throws you a curveball. Your budget for your project is gone. The client forgot to tell you a key factor in their development environment that will make your deployment hell—assuming they know anything about it.

Oh, and do you travel for work? What do you do when an airline throws a wrench in your plans?

Trust me, I’ve been through it all.

The best sales and field engineers can deal with this. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, they make a plan, execute, and when they fail and fail they try again! And again. And again. Until it works or the clock runs out.

No experience? I can deal with this with education. Have you made a few mistakes? If you never do, I’d say you’re not trying hard enough.

But when the going gets tough, you can’t stop and get discouraged. And it has to come from you.

Steve Barreault Multilingual presales, sales and business development management professional with 20+ years of experience in sales and marketing of software & technology solutions worldwide. He has built a sales infrastructure from $0 to millions of $ through direct sales and distributors.

Lisa Perry, Global Marketing Executive

A professional woman learns a new skill while watching a training/webinar

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The most important skill I look for in an employee is their willingness to learn. This includes being open-minded to new ideas, sharing their ideas and insights with colleagues, and being able to think on their feet and solve problems on a moment-to-moment basis with a “can-do” attitude. These skills are critical to an employee’s personal and professional growth and contribute to the overall success of the organization. A willingness to learn allows employees to adapt to new challenges, develop creative solutions to problems, and continuously improve their skills and knowledge. It also helps foster a culture of innovation and development throughout the organization.

As an employee, it is essential to focus on your willingness to learn to stay relevant in your career while remaining competitive in the market. As the business world is constantly evolving, employees need to adapt and acquire new skills and knowledge to stay current and relevant in their field. Learning new skills enables employees to be proactive in identifying and solving challenges and opportunities, leading to greater success for both the employee and the organization.

Lisa Perry Helps companies build leadership brands, drive loyal customers and drive profitability. She does this through a process of creating brands that consumers love. Her mission is to help companies develop, monetize and grow their brands.

Andrea Markowski, Marketing Executive

An executive talks to her employees in a team meeting

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Combining the many knowledge and skills gathered throughout your life and applying them to your current work role will help you stand out as a valuable asset.

For example, I learned practical structure for theater acting and directing when I was in college. Today as a marketing director, I use a modified version of the strategic framework.

How is it? Well, both the art of theater and the art of marketing involve key elements of audience psychology and message communication.

Any marketers aware of this tie-in? Maybe not.

Will an employer ever teach me this? No.

When you successfully adapt a learned approach to a different function, you bring a fresh perspective through pattern recognition and critical reasoning.

Your ability to connect the dots from your past jobs and life experiences to your current role brings creativity and innovation that simply cannot be taught. This is a skill I aspire to and highly motivates team members.

Andrea Markowski Marketing Director specializing in strategic development, digital strategies, design thinking and creative direction. She has superpowers in presentations and public speaking.

Ana Smith, Talent Architect & Global Learning Strategist

A sense of self-awareness

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Self-awareness is a skill I want to see in every employee I work with!

The main reason is that self-awareness is the conscious awareness of your strengths, weaknesses, actions, and presence. Therefore, self-awareness requires a clear awareness of your mental and emotional states.

When you have a deep and meaningful self-awareness, it allows you to respond to different situations and trigger habitual responses for yourself, understanding how you relate to other people and why you behave in certain areas in other areas. .

Self-awareness is very important and brings benefits in your personal and professional life. For example, it can help you identify what you like about your job and how to build a successful career path that keeps you motivated and satisfied with your work.

How do you build this skill? Here are some ideas:

  • Assess your own abilities – With a high level of self-awareness, you will see where you can excel and where you can grow.
  • Find a peer coach – someone you trust and respect who is willing to support you on your journey of self-awareness.
  • Practice holism – being aware of your surroundings without imposing any personal biases.
  • Be open to receiving feedback – you need to hear different perspectives to grow.

And don’t forget that like any skill, it’s a journey!

Anna Smith Helps individuals & organizations achieve their full talent potential by developing and co-creating people strategies and customized solutions and using coaching as a “red thread” to transform impactful results and collaborative relationships.

What is the #1 skill you should look for in every employee who works for you? Join the conversation inside Work It Daily Executive Program.

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