I have observed with younger tech professionals that “soft” skills are seen as sprinkles on the donut. They add pizzaz but are not entirely necessary.

Hard skills, like coding, can be judged in objective terms. Expert coding skills are so complex that, younger coders become mesmerized with the art and craft of coding to the exclusion of all else.

But, this star struck focus on output is inherently flawed.

“Soft” skills will take your hard skills, like coding, from good to great.

“Soft” skills have the power to unlock a new level of expertise.

Until this point, you have relied on your own methods and talent. This has earned you a reputation for your skills. But, eventually, you will hit a plateau in your growth. When this happens, you will see people not as technically skills getting promotions and advancing.

Imposter syndrome and panic sets in. What is going on?

Before you hit your plateau, double down on “soft” skills.

With my work, we help people build 7 skills: Smarter Learning, Selfwork, Design & Innovation, Strategic Thinking, Communication, Teamwork and Information Management.

How to build your unique skills:

Tip #1: Growth mindset. Instead of getting angry or frustrated, get curious. Stop thinking about you and your ‘talent’, ask more questions and ask for feedback. Ask for help.

Tip #2: Honest self-assessment. As with any athlete who hits a plateau, you need an objective view of your strengths and gaps. Reach out and ask others.

Tip #3: Take action. What “soft” skill development will help you leap forward? Is it smarter learning, communication or strategic thinking? Pick one skill and set yourself a goal for daily learning.

Believing that you can excel in any career based only on your technical expertise will inevitably land you on a plateau. “Soft” skills are not the sprinkles on top, instead think of them like baking power or the combustion engine of growth.

So, what are you baking today?