Category Archives: Learning & Training

Soft Skills That Are Actually Hard Currency

There are four specific aspects of leadership that make a great deal of a difference in your level of professionalism and the overall performance of your team. Good leadership is built on skills that go beyond scheduling, budgeting, and change management. Understanding how to utilize strategic stakeholder communications to uncloak hidden objections while navigating camouflaged negotiations will directly improve your leadership skills and the influence of your role.

A 2019 Global Talent Trends study conducted by LinkedIn showed that 92% of talent acquisition professionals stated that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills, and 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack critical soft skills.

So, why are these key values not being taught in any technical leadership curriculum?

The skills you should be mastering


Stakeholder and Hidden Objections

Each project has a set of stakeholders that will directly influence the outcome, and as a project manager it is your responsibility to know who they are and what they want. Unfortunately, stakeholders and hidden objections are often missed at the opportune time resulting in unforeseen escalation of costs.

‘Uncover Concealed Partners & Concerns’ will refine your skills in identifying stakeholders that might not be obvious. Using a simple technique, we teach you how to amplify your stakeholder identification process, as well as how to implement these skills to properly uncover objections and expectations that might not be in plain sight.

A 2021 discovery report on the most sought after skills highlighted that nearly two thirds of respondents placed a higher priority on “soft” skills. “Leveraging data from 82 million employer job postings, America Succeeds announced findings that reveal the critical importance of Durable Skills training for long-term success in the workplace” Emsi, 2021.

Effective Presentations

Virtual presentation skills have rapidly become a crucial skill to master during the shift to working from home. It’s never been more challenging and yet simultaneously important to be able to captivate a room while both entertaining and influencing your audience.

‘You ARE a Public Speaker’ – it’s something that you do every day.  We focus on specific areas of public speaking, presentation power, and team briefing to increase the comprehensibility and impact of your communication skills.  Using our framework enables you to plan, deliver, and capitalize on your objectives.

These skills are often disregarded as soft or interpersonal, the influence that they have is oftentimes the difference between effective versus incompetent leadership. A 2020 Business Insider article mentions that the importance of fostering these skills should not be ignored. “In the age of automation these skills are becoming more important.  Although some tasks at work will be automated, soft skills like emotional intelligence and the ability to teach, won't be.”

Tactful Negotiations

Not everything is on the table during a negotiation. Discussions can start before the meeting is even scheduled. Learning how to see the concealed aspects of a negotiation will afford you the peace of mind necessary to make more cognizant decisions in your favor.

‘Don’t Leave it ON The Table’ is a valuable approach to negotiating based on making well-informed decisions. This framework for negotiating is straightforward and geared toward understanding the impact and potential of your options. Mastering your competency skills in this area is vital toward managing and maintaining healthy professional relationships with your team and additional stakeholders.

Even though there has been more focus placed toward “soft” skills in the past few years, studies show that mastering these competencies has been crucial for leadership roles well before this time. A 2016 article from Hult International School of Business states that “Building cooperative relationships, responding effectively to multiple priorities and working well with people from diverse cultural backgrounds are just three of the many soft skills required by today’s global leaders. So much so, in fact, that 92% of the respondents in Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report rated soft skills as a critical priority.”

Strategic Communications

Early communications affect your project just as much as planned meetings later on. Understanding the role that communications plays in your project, team, and organization will help you identify the appropriate guidelines necessary to lead you to success.

‘Persuade Through Deliberate Conversation’ the critical role of the relationship between an organization’s strategy and a particular project, and how this correlation affects team commitment levels. Understanding these systems, which are already taking place, and managing their connectivity is the groundwork toward successfully achieving higher expectations and deliverables.

This means that the time and energy you spend expanding your competencies in the ‘soft skills’ give you the power to be able to enter, leave, or shift career paths, industries and organizations.

These courses are designed to go beyond the basics while being easily digestible, immediately applicable, and time management friendly for intermediate and experienced managers. Purchase the entire bundle or select an individual course to focus on and study the material on your time.

If you want to learn more about the Power Skill Bundle or other KSP Project Management Solutions, reach out to us at

What Do We Do With PowerPoint Now?

KSP Partnership is proud to participate in the Black Diamond Charity work teaching returning veterans project management tools.  As part of their education we help prepare them for the inevitable day when they will have to speak to leadership teams or change control boards.  In other words – presenting, public speaking. You know -  that which often causes nerves to act up.  You may not realize how many parts of you are bothered by the prospect of putting your professional self on the line in front of people who can determine your quality of life at work after the presentation.

Appropriate use of PowerPoint as a tool is always one of the sticking points. Now, in the age of heavily virtual teams and shared screens, how you use the tool becomes even more important.

So – a couple of hints:

  • Keep the graphics and text simple and spare. Focus on a few strong colors.
  • Keep the animations to a minimum. This will simplify things if you have to provide PDF versions of the slide show. Animations mean you have to create a slide with each development of that animation if you need to provide a PDF for the rest of the folks attending the meeting.
  • As you use photos or graphics in your slide show remember to ‘Compress Pictures’ for on-line quality.

The need to transmit information well continues to be one of your heaviest responsibilities as a project leader.

Remember – the message they receive is the message you sent.  It may not be the message you intended to send.  It is, however, the message they received. It means your preparation can have even more impact on your clarity of message.

Disclaimer: these suggestions will not work in organizational climates where they demand they be able to use the slide deck to brief those who did not attend the meeting.

In those organizations, if they either cannot attend or are not invited, then do they need a comprehensive read-out of the subject at hand?

Some other resources are listed below.

The Long, Painful Death of PowerPoint

Kimi Hirotsu Ziemski, founder of KSP Partnership, works with leaders and teams who want to take the productivity of their performance levels up – not just for now but as the start of incremental improvements on an ongoing basis. The impact of your team’s culture can be your strongest tool. We can help you craft and curate a culture that generates higher levels of productivity – and therefore profitability.

What Does Your Customer Need?

Have you ever accidentally gotten in your own way? Every project manager, every project leader balances the wants and needs of their clients. Sometimes, though, we forget that what we’re making, all respect to the pride of professionalism in our team members, doesn’t actually belong to us! So a shout out to my wonderful colleagues – how do you keep your team’s focus on what the customer needs?

Introverts – Evolution’s Saviors

As a extrovert – someone who gets a lot of energy from interactions with others – I have somehow managed to have some of my strongest partnerships with introverts – loners. I always figured that it was just proof that opposites really DO attract.

Well, it turns out that, according to some truly smart folks at Princeton, introverts might just save the species. In fact, apparently in their studies of various animal populations, the loners tended to be the ones who would avoid things that could kill in large swathes. For the loners who live by themselves, they are significantly more likely to not get what ever bug or virus is going around. They’re also a whole lot less likely to get stressed over strict limitations on socializing opportunities. Some of us extroverts? Not so much.

We’re starting to talk with the pictures on our desk. This sounds to me like yet another demonstration of the strengths of a diverse group. Get those different perspectives about what works and why. Ask people to put their strengths forward. In John Maxwell’s now famous 360∘ Leadership model we learned that the most effective leadership comes from who is the strongest at solving a particular problem.

So let’s keep in mind that those quiet folks, the ones who might need a bit of coaxing to verbally participate – might well be in the strongest position to survive troubling health situations with their sanity intact. They are also leading by example – finding satisfaction in things that extroverts like me don’t always reach for – activities or hobbies we may have long left in favor of sharing conversation and wine with friends at a restaurant.


Is It Boring or Is It Room for Reflection?

What can I do?! Interestingly enough folks have begun posting semi-desperate requests for suggestions about what to do now that they've exhausted their back-burner to-do lists. It turns out that sometimes the thing that will help you amp up your creativity (i.e., new ideas) is the very thing that seems to be last thing you want - boredom. Whether it is physical boredom or mental boredom, you might well get a glimmer of a new idea simply because, without all of the usual noise of busy-ness, there is room for that whisper of an idea to grow and be heard.


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