By Deb Nelms, Board Coach for Women in the Boardroom | Women in the Boardroom


The Importance of Knowing Your Executive Skill-Set and Abilities

By Deb Nelms, Board Coach for Women in the Boardroom

How many times have you been asked what your skills, differentiators, or abilities are and found the need to pause before you answer? Or have responded with, “I have strong people skills”, “I’m a collaborator”, and “I digest and assimilate large amounts of information”. While you can count these abilities as skills, they don’t get to the heart of the matter which is this – what specific skills do you bring to an organization? How can you be an asset during the current and future life-cycle phases of a given company? Can you achieve measurable and impactful results at the departmental, divisional, business unit, or enterprise levels?


Most of us have been so busy doing what we do and doing it really well that we have not made the time or created the space to have done an honest appraisal of ourselves and what we bring to the executive table.


This manifests into 1) a lack of clarity and confidence when speaking to influencers and decision-makers and 2) professional documents which do not clearly demonstrate key skills, differentiators or abilities, resulting in unnecessary stress, less than ideal first impressions and missed opportunities.


Thinking about your specific skills requires a change in perspective. For example, have you created or executed strategies that have resulted in or fostered: growth, increased revenue, cultural change, expanded market share, an increase in brand awareness, or mitigated or minimized risk? Have you lead your company through a major business model change or international expansion during times of significant transition, or during unplanned or unexpected events? Are you considered an expert in a particular area?


As you advance in your career or become interested in corporate board service, it’s critical that you make the time to identify and clearly communicate your specific skills and abilities. Until you have done this, many find that they are unable to state their accomplishments and career highlights into impactful professional documents and conversations. Once you have taken the time to identify and assess your skills, you are also guaranteed to overcome personal barriers and speak with more confidence and ease about what you have to offer. The confidence and ease gained becomes one of your greatest assets and is invaluable when meeting with influencers and decision-makers.


Yet another advantage to making the time to identify and assess your skills is that you will be able to identify skill gaps, affording you the opportunity to develop a plan to acquire training or experience that will bridge those. You will also benefit by being prepared to address those gaps with assurance and highlight your specific skills as a counter.


Regardless of the stage of your career or board pursuit, the ability to communicate your skills with clarity and confidence is a vital component to your success. The time and effort you invest will pay off multi-fold in the interest you generate and progress you make as a result.


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