Recently I was approached in the following terms:

“I have been authorised to sign up for up to three soft skills courses this year.  I know that you are an expert in these things and was wondering if you could suggest three you think most appropriate and the right order.”

Here’s an extract from my reply:

“Think of soft skills in the same way as technical skills. Which approach works best for you?

Are you still at the stage where you look at the list of available courses and then pick from the list or do you start by asking – where I am weakest? Or which areas do I most want to keep on top of? And having decided where to focus, you then look to find specific relevant technical courses on those subjects?

In my view the same approach is key to developing ‘soft skills’.

I’d suggest that the best starting point is to identify which areas would most benefit from development. As a starting point I have attached a checklist of a dozen key skills.  Pick those that are most important to you in your role at [your firm]. Then rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 for those skills that are important. That should help you to identify where to focus. Once you’ve done that it’ll be easier to recommend some suitable courses or training.”

I included a link to a white paper I wrote a couple of years ago about personal skills development for ambitious professionals. This contains the 12 key skills too, so you could use that list if you wanted to follow the approach I’ve suggested above.