Introducing the Enablement Soft-Skill Triangle – #LifeInEnablement
As the Enablement field matures, there are clear functional skills that professionals should have to be successful at their job. But the opinions vary significantly when it comes to the required soft skills that separate a good from an amazing Enabler. Most of the functional skills can be acquired through experience and tenure in the role. What I personally consider to be the key soft skills, on the other hand, require a certain kind of individual, personality, and character.
Hiring great Enablers is generally not an easy task due to the lack of seasoned professionals in this field. With that in mind, focusing on soft skills during your hiring process rather than functional skills opens a whole new world to introduce new talent to the field of Enablement, and to develop them to their full potential. Through my experience leading the Enablement practice at multiple organizations – often building one from scratch, even – I have developed what I call the Enablement Soft Skill Triangle. This shows the team skill set it takes to create a customer-centric Enablement ecosystem in your organization:
So how do these skills break down?
Be an effective communicator.
The core soft skill helping you to be very successful in the role as Enabler, is being an effective communicator. You can build the most innovative Enablement services, come up with never-heard ideas and develop new initiatives that positively impact your organization’s revenue. But unless you are able to communicate the what, why, and how behind them you will probably not get very far.
This goes beyond knowing what to say in the first place. It is just as important to understand quickly who needs to know what, how much detail you should provide, when to communicate, and the right vehicle of communication (call, meeting, email etc.) for each key stakeholder. The key is to know who cares about what the most, who will be a positive influence or a detractor, and to change your communication strategy accordingly. Clear articulation of your goals and objectives will be key influence stakeholders across the organization.
Be a strong influencer.
Communications skills are key, but they go hand-in-hand with influencing skills. When building Enablement services for your organization you will have to gain buy-in from a lot of stakeholders and people in the field. Many different opinions usually lead to very lengthy design phases of these services. It is key to be able to influence stakeholders to drive towards a common agreement quickly, which ultimately allows Enablers to drive urgency and progress.
With the Enablement field being still relatively new and partly undiscovered, any professional has to be creative, try new ideas while thinking out-of-the-box. Looking at situations and challenges from a different perspective and proposing new approaches requires a lot of influencing skills especially if an organization is resistant to change. Without being able to drive innovation, the field of Enablement won’t be able to grow and evolve. The combination of being an effective communicator and a strong influencer leads to the third and final complementary soft skill.
Be an inspiring connector.
Too often, Enablement is viewed as a “program” or a “function” with a beginning and an end. If you instead aspire to create a customer-centric ecosystem in your organization where information, feedback, and content flows freely, you have to be able to connect people and business units with each other. The ability to build bridges, to connect people who might not have the same goals and objectives, to create open feedback channels, and to manage conflict and friction are all part of being an outstanding connector. Accomplishing this means inspiring people to let them see new ways of working with one another, and ultimately enrolling them in new possibilities. Being a source of inspiration for the people in your organization is not just important when things are going well, it is crucial in times of struggle.
The key is to understand the extremely powerful connection between being an effective communicator, a strong influencer, and an inspiring connector and the power it unlocks when balanced in the right way. When you bring all of these soft skills to the table, your Enablement team is set up for success – even before the technical skills.
Irina Soriano is the Head of Enablement at Seismic. Find her on LinkedIn here.