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Soft Skills, Leadership, and now Empathy

Guest Author
A recent post by @mikejwalker on a new Soft Skills course by Architecting the Enterprise rightly points out the importance of soft skills for the EA discipline. I think this is a great addition to the profession and shows formal recognition of the importance of soft skills in the industry.

The EA positions I've seen in companies are generally at a 1st or 2nd line management grades. Corporations seem to recognize at some level the need for a "higher stature" for the EA professional. The leadership skills take more cultivation than just updating the HR records, however. It takes a skillful balance of things perhaps even learned outside the scope of the office such as running a youth organization or planning other non-profit events. Corporations are wise to invest in leadership training - often only slated for management - for EA professionals. 

The EA profession is both strategic and change-oriented impacting people far more than the bucket of bolts on your data center floor. Changing behaviors in humans is at the core of the discipline. 

The above was written last week. This week @nickmalik rightly opines on the importance of empathy EAs. I only scanned this article (which deserves a good read by the fire with my favorite scotch). He's definitely onto something here...

Bottom line - soft skills are becoming increasingly important!!! So, fellow EA professional, what do you do to hone your soft skills? Who do you draw upon for leadership lessons?

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Comments ( 1 )
  • Keith Flanagan Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    Hi Eric,

    As the lead author and developer for this product I'm naturally thrilled that you've taken the time to blog about the use of 'soft skill sets' in the EA setting.

    As I see it; developing empathetic relationships with key stakeholders in of paramount importance to the practicing Architect. Those who are truly working at the enterprise level will know that the majority of their day is spent in dialogue with people outside of the Architecture space. Without sponsorship, we simply cannot proceed. By developing great relationships, we are more likely to win over our sponsors. But of course, it goes much deeper than that.

    Our natural default setting is technology and that’s what we like to talk about! Issues arise when we talk to non-technologists in this language. Without a clear and empathetic view of our stakeholder’s disposition, we can never really hope to get them fully on-board. If your sponsor does not fully understand what it is that you are trying to achieve then how can they ever be expected to sign off work or agree on budgets?

    We’re attempting to address this (and more) in the Elevating Enterprise Architecture products and our clients are beginning to see the great benefits that these skills can bring.

    Thanks again for highlighting our work.

    With best wishes,


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