The Most Important Business Skill That You Won’t Learn in Your MBA


The Most Important Business Skill That You Won’t Learn in Your MBA

You don’t have to look far today to find people who want you to believe that having a University degree in business brings automatic success in every field or venture. The advertising for MBA degrees promises to help you ‘master the principles of communication,’ while ‘delivering a broad and extensive understanding of business and management theory and practice.’ Of course who doesn’t want to ‘breed leaders who possess confidence and skills across all disciplines of management, and who reach beyond what they know to be ahead of the crowd.’ It’s enough to give you degree envy!  But how do you measure their real value to a business?

Regardless of the level of education, you choose to bring to your business; there is one skill that trumps every other ability. This one interpersonal skill leverages every other skill and ability we have because humans are designed for relationship. Possessing this one skill is actually one of the most significant indicators of success in all life and business relationships.

The one skill to rule them all is … your ability to be present in the moment.  Put another way; it’s your ability to be 100% emotionally there in any situation that determines your ability to hold, manage and improve all your relationships. All significant and sustainable success in business depends upon your ability to recognise opportunities. When you’re present, you’re alert and aware of opportunities in a way that others are not.

1. Strive to know of what’s really happening during your conversations

How often have you began a conversation with someone and quickly discovered they weren’t really there? Perhaps their body was present, but their mind was definitely absent; off on a tangent, task switching or generally just not plugged in.

How did that make you feel? Probably insulted, possibly devalued and ignored. Perhaps hostile and uncooperative? Now think about a more positive conversation where another person gave you their full and deliberate attention. They may even have said words to the effect of, ‘Let me turn my phone off because I’m here with you now.’  In contrast, what was that like? Probably exciting, maybe flattering, definitely empowering and usually energising.

So which conversation got more of your effort, your shared insight, and your helpful attention?

2. Deliberate thinking forces action

Rather than wait for an idea to float into your mind, be deliberate in choosing to focus on and think through an issue.

I’m amazed how many people need to listen to the radio while driving between jobs or need the television on when they are working. They say it helps them think, and they expect good original ideas and insightful solutions to ‘naturally bust through the distractions into their consciousness.’These people are also the first to complain how hard business is for them.

Over the course of our business life, there will be hundreds of thousands of opportunities that are missed and go unseen purely because our distracted mind doesn’t recognise them – we’re not emotionally present to see them and to respond to them. Improving the greatest of all mental skills – to be emotionally present in the moment – means you can increase your ability to understand what’s being communicated in conversations with both staff and customers. You can see opportunities and your insights can help you harness the natural giftedness and unique insights of those you have conversations with – undistracted.

As you become more aware of what’s really happening in both your personal and professional relationships, you’ll increase your ability to recognise opportunities and respond to them.  Whether that be catching people out doing the right thing and providing acknowledgment or recognising a niche in the market that’s underserved that you and your team can gain the advantage in.  Deepening your insight by being emotionally present helps you strengthen the ties between your team and your customers.

Regardless of what you call it, getting in the zone, finding your flow or becoming better at taking the emotional temperature of a room full of people – this heightened awareness and ability to respond to opportunity accelerates getting stuff done. And that’s really why we’re all in business.

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  • Karen Finnin

    Thanks for a great article Drew – so true. I think people see degrees and certificates as an insurance policy to be successful, but the real seeds of success come from within, right?

    • Drew

      Karen I think the world is dying by degrees 🙂 Thanks for the feedback.

  • Tracy

    Another great read Drew and something I always strive to do is be present in every conversation.

    … I’m a work in progress on that one.

  • Drew Browne

    Tracy I wonder where I’d be today if I learn more about this one earlier lol. Thanks for the read and your kind feedback,.

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