In another thread I raised this question, and I think it deserves its own Great Debate.
Does ‘success’ (wealth, family, whatever) tend to follow social skills or technical competence?
I’m more and more believing that material and personal success and happiness, especially success in the business world, follows superior social skills rather than superior technical competence (although having both is ideal, or course).
As an anecdotal example, I point to myself and one of my best friends. Though we graduated from school at roughly the same time, met each other doing the same job at the same company, and are both smart, geeky, and creative, even slightly eccentric, he has always had much greater social skills that I. I am convinced that this is a big part of the reason that he now makes more money than I and is married, while I make less money and am single.
There is the stereotype of the technically-brilliant loner, who can think his way through problems that would baffle most others, but does not know how to connect to other people, and is cheated or ignored.
There is the stereotype of the glib marketer, who is all social skills, and easily acquires wealth through sensing and satisfying others’ emotional needs.
Ideally, an organization would have people with both these qualities, and would know how to place them to use their strengths and support their weaknesses.
It seems that social skills are necessary for success because we are social creatures… Am I on to something here?