Soft Skills Reviewed by Momizat on . Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success This article is based on the presentation given by Andreas Creutzmann at the NACVA and the CTI’s BVFL Super Conference Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success This article is based on the presentation given by Andreas Creutzmann at the NACVA and the CTI’s BVFL Super Conference Rating: 0
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Soft Skills

Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success

This article is based on the presentation given by Andreas Creutzmann at the NACVA and the CTI’s BVFL Super Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on December 14, 2023, and on his book, Soft Skills for the Professional Services Industry: Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success, published by Wiley. It aims to present the principles, tasks, and tools that are essential for professionals in the digital world.

Soft Skills: Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success

This article is based on the presentation given by Andreas Creutzmann at the NACVA and the CTI’s BVFL Super Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on December 14, 2023, and on his book, Soft Skills for the Professional Services Industry: Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success, published by Wiley. It aims to present the principles, tasks, and tools that are essential for professionals in the digital world. Soft skills are the people skills that can be learned and improved through training, and they are crucial for achieving professional and personal success and happiness. Talent and gifts are innate potentials that cannot be learned, while knowledge and soft skills are acquired through education and experience. Outstanding performance requires a combination of talent, knowledge, and soft skills. The article consists of three parts: principles, tasks, and tools.

Principles are the guidelines that professionals should follow, tasks are the key activities that they should perform, and tools are the methods they should use. The article is written for professionals in the service industry, such as valuation professionals, auditors, lawyers, doctors, and teachers, who need to master the complexity of the digital and VUCA world.

Principles for Success

The following six principles form the framework for applying the key tasks and using the tools.

  1. The Principle of Self-Responsibility

This principle is about being accountable for one’s own actions and results in both professional and personal life, and not blaming others or external factors for one’s failures or shortcomings. It is based on the understanding of the laws of cause and effect, faith, expectations, attraction, and correspondence; which govern the relationship between one’s thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. It also requires being aware of one’s own behavioral patterns and role models; which are often unconsciously adopted from one’s parents or superiors, and making conscious decisions that reflect one’s values and beliefs.

  1. The Principle of Result Orientation

This principle is about focusing on the desired outcomes and doing the right things at the right time to achieve them, rather than being busy with irrelevant or unimportant tasks. It is based on the learning from successful top athletes and adopting their traits and success factors, such as goal clarity, willpower, training, strong team, mental strength, physical fitness, and regeneration phases, which enable them to perform at their peak. It also involves using the law of attraction and the law of correspondence to create a positive and congruent inner and outer world that supports one’s success and being a reflection of one’s own goals.

  1. The Principle of Focus

This principle is about concentrating on the few essential things that matter most and ignoring the rest, rather than being distracted by many irrelevant or unimportant things. It involves specializing in a niche, applying the Pareto rule, and the extreme Pareto principle, which state that a small percentage of inputs or activities produce a large percentage of outputs or results, and avoiding multitasking and distractions, which reduce one’s productivity and effectiveness. It also involves asking the focusing question: “What is the one thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” and following the eight principles of possibility thinking to find great answers and act on them.

  1. The Principle of Levering Strengths

This principle is about identifying and utilizing one’s innate talents and abilities for optimal performance and results, rather than trying to improve one’s weaknesses or change one’s personality. It involves understanding the different types of intelligences, such as: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, physical, naturalistic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, spiritual, and associative-creative; which reflect one’s cognitive, emotional, and creative potential, and finding the best fit for one’s profession and personal life. It also involves accepting and managing one’s weaknesses, and not trying to change one’s personality, but rather finding the best environment and tasks that suit one’s strengths, and surrounding oneself with people who complement one’s strengths.

  1. The Principle of Positive Thinking

This principle is about having a constructive and optimistic mindset that helps overcome challenges and achieve goals, rather than being pessimistic or negative. It involves being aware of the influences of the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious mind, which are the levels of awareness that affect one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, and using techniques such as mental training, mindstorming, visualization, zero-based thinking, and gratitude to program one’s thoughts for success, and to access one’s primal knowledge and intuition. It also involves being realistic and honest about one’s situation, and not being influenced by negative suggestions or emotions that do not serve one’s purpose, but rather using positive affirmations and suggestions to reinforce one’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

  1. The Principle of Action Orientation

This principle is about taking consistent and effective actions that lead to the desired results, rather than being passive or procrastinating. It involves understanding the motives and motivation behind one’s behavior; which are the directional, situation-independent stimuli for action that reflect one’s values and goals. It also involves being proactive and taking initiative, and not letting fear, doubt, or procrastination stop one from taking action, but rather using the principle of positive thinking to overcome obstacles and challenges.

Tasks for Success

The principles presented before should be adhered to when performing your tasks and using the tools. They provide the framework for the tasks as outlined in the following.

Marketing is the most important task of a successful professional. This is even more true if they work in a solo practice because in this case, they are not only responsible for providing the services, but also for acquiring new potential clients as well as retaining existing clients. In a partnership or in larger entities, there is usually a division of labor, which means that there are only a few professionals—sometimes only one—who are able to acquire and retain new clients. The employees of such companies are aware of the significant importance of these individuals for the success of the company. Any professional, no matter how qualified, can only validate their qualifications if clients express their trust in the business and demand the services offered. Marketing at the level of the company is about the positioning of the company, its brand strategy, service strategy, and price strategy. It is about how the company is perceived or wants to be perceived by its customers. Marketing at the level of the professional is about the positioning of the professional, their own brand, and how they are perceived or want to be perceived by their customers. It is about the professional’s ability to sell themselves, their services, and their company.

Multiplication marketing is a cycle that illustrates the marketing activities of a professional within the framework of expert positioning. It vividly illustrates that the individual marketing activities are interconnected and that a professional can start any marketing activity at any time as part of their positioning strategy.

Setting clear and meaningful goals is the next task of a professional. Setting goals can help professionals achieve exceptional success and happiness in their personal and professional lives. The principle of ONE thing, which is based on the idea of focusing on the most important task or goal in each area of life. The SMART formula is helpful for setting effective and realistic goals. The formula consists of five criteria: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and terminable. Personal goals are the goals of a professional in their private and professional life, while corporate goals are the goals of the company. Only when a professional has clarity of purpose at the personal level, they can contribute their full potential to the achievement of corporate goals. Goals should also be written down and pursued.

The task of planning and organizing is another key task of a professional. A project is a unique and complex process with predefined goals, deadlines and costs, and project management is the responsibility for planning, coordinating, and controlling the project. Effective project management requires knowledge of the processes, activities, and results of the project, as well as the ability to estimate the time and resources needed, delegate tasks, prioritize and intervene when necessary. The project manager is the leader of the team who ensures that the project objectives are achieved with high quality and efficiency. They also have a coaching function and trust their team members to perform their duties. The project manager should have a clear vision of the expected results and plan the project accordingly. They should also monitor the progress and quality of the project and make adjustments if needed.

An important task of professionals is decision-making, and all professionals make many decisions every day. This applies to both their professional and private lives. Intuition and simple rules of thumb can often lead to better decisions than complex calculations and logic, especially in uncertain situations. Intuition based on less information can be more beneficial than intuition based on more information. There is a seven-step approach for making good decisions, based on the ideas of Fredmund Malik. The steps include defining the issue, specifying the requirements, elaborating the alternatives, analyzing the risks and consequences, deciding, realizing, and establishing feedback.

An essential and important task of a successful professional is therefore the professional and personal development and promotion of their employees. Anyone who wants to develop and promote other people should have two prerequisites:

  1. They should have the willingness to develop themselves professionally and personally.
  2. They should be a positive role model.

If you want to develop professionals, you must demand something from them. Professionals develop with and through their tasks. The principle is to encourage and challenge employees, but not to overtax them. Employees want to be encouraged and challenged according to their performance. And since this performance is very individual, there can be no uniform approach to employee development. This starts with the fact that employees absorb and process information in completely different ways. Some employees learn best by reading. Others learn best by listening. Other professionals learn best by doing.

The last important task of a professional is control. It emphasizes the importance of trust, self-responsibility, and self-control in the management of employees. Quality assurance and the identification of obstacles on the way to the goal are important tasks of control. The use of key performance indicators is also discussed as a means of controlling a professional services provider. The book also highlights the importance of being open and honest about mistakes and the consequences of lying.

Tools

If you want to successfully manage yourself and others, you should master the tools described below. Effective management stands or falls with the proper use of tools.

  1. Self-Management

You are the starting point of effective and successful management. If you cannot manage yourself, you cannot manage others. That is why your personal work methodology and productivity is so important. Self-management is closely related to the principles of focus and results orientation. In addition, self-management is the bridge to your goals.

The three self-commitments to achieve extraordinary results are:

  1. Commitment to always doing their best
  2. Applying the best method
  3. Taking self-responsibility

These commitments require selective discipline, mental training, and personal accountability.

The four thieves of productivity are:

  1. The inability to say no
  2. The fear of chaos in life
  3. Unhealthy habits
  4. Unsupportive environment

There are three keys to personal productivity. Reserve blocks of time for three items:

  1. Downtime
  2. The ONE thing
  3. Scheduling

These blocks of time help to regenerate, concentrate, and plan effectively.

  1. Mental Training

Mental training consists of three components:

  1. Active meditation, which uses music and suggestions to relax the mind and program positive beliefs.
  2. Autosuggestion, which uses affirming sentences to influence oneself and overcome negative programming.
  3. Visualization, which uses inner images to replay or anticipate situations and optimize performance.

Mental training can be used to pass exams, conduct meetings, give presentations, and deal with challenges. There are some tips for practicing mental training, such as using breathing and voice exercises, repeating autosuggestions aloud, taking the camera perspective, and following the output format instructions.

  1. Rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing to persuade or influence others. Rhetoric is not only about words, but also about voice and body language. Rhetoric training can be done on three levels:

  1. Voice training
  2. Conversation skills
  3. Speech or presentation skills

Voice training helps to develop a confident and convincing voice. Conversation skills help to establish rapport, ask the right questions, and find win-win solutions. Speech or presentation skills help to structure your thoughts, use effective language, and captivate the audience.

People perceive information through three main sensory channels: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Each person has a dominant channel, which influences their language and understanding. A good speaker should address all sensory channels in their presentation and adapt to the dominant channel of their interlocutor.

PowerPoint slides are often used in business presentations, but they can also distract from the speaker and the message. PowerPoint should be used only when it serves the function and the goal of the presentation. The speaker should be the focus, not the slides. The speaker should also use personal examples, figurative language, and citations to make the presentation memorable and compelling.

  1. Communication Skills

The fourth tool of successful professionals is the proper use of effective communication tools. Unlike rhetoric, which is about the “how,” communication tools are about the means. The “how” in communication is much more important than the means. It is self-evident that a professional needs to keep up with the latest technical developments, such as collaboration tools, video conferencing, and digitalization, to remain competitive and effective. But it is much more important to know when a professional needs to use oral, written, or video-based communication. Personal contact counts more than ever in the digital age. The importance of using clear, concise, and accurate language in written and verbal communications, as well as the skills of rhetoric and persuasion are even more important than in the past.

  1. Work-Life Balanced-Scorecard

The Work-Life-Balanced-Scorecard is a model for creating and controlling the balance between work and private life, based on the concept of the Balanced Scorecard. The model suggests that a balanced life consists of four areas:

  1. Work and performance
  2. Body and health
  3. Family and friends
  4. Meaning and values

Each area should have clear and measurable goals, key figures, and activities. Again, planning is an essential basis for success, both in business and in personal life.

Conclusion

The article is about soft skills contributing to a professional’s success. It aims to provide principles, tasks, and tools for successful professionals to integrate into their daily lives. Soft skills are not only relevant for professional competence, but also for personal happiness and satisfaction. And soft skills are becoming even more crucial in the age of digitalization and artificial intelligence.

The main message and goal of the article is that happiness comes from success, and success comes from applying the soft skills presented in this article. The article’s goal is to inspire professionals to realize their potential and change their lives for the better. Deepen your knowledge and read my book, Soft Skills for the Professional Services Industry: Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success. E-Book or Hardcover


Andreas Creutzmann, CPA, CVA, is a German certified public accountant, tax consultant, and Certified Valuation Analyst specializing in business valuations. He has been active in the business world for more than 30 years and has successfully established several companies in the valuation industry. He is a founder of the European Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (EACVA) and was honored as an industry titan by NACVA in 2016. With the introduction of the designation “Certified Valuation Analyst,” he was instrumental in establishing a new profession for valuation professionals in Europe. Andreas has been an active speaker and author for more than 20 years. In addition to lecturing and teaching in the field of business valuation, he is involved intensely in the marketing and management of professionals. In his articles, he shares his practical experience as an entrepreneur on the subject of success with professional colleagues.

Mr. Creutzmann may be contacted at +49 (0) 6341 92 20 20 or by e-mail to andreas.creutzmann@creutzmann.de. Additional information may be found at http://www.creutzmann.eu

The National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA) supports the users of business and intangible asset valuation services and financial forensic services, including damages determinations of all kinds and fraud detection and prevention, by training and certifying financial professionals in these disciplines.

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