Human Skills Defined | MIT J-WEL

Human Skills Defined

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Skill Descriptions

The following are definitions of the skills included in the HSX.

  • Critical thinking – objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment (
  • Creativity – use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness (
  • Entrepreneurship – ability to identify marketplace opportunities and discover the most appropriate ways and time to capitalize on them (
  • Ethics – use of moral principles to guide thinking; characterized by consideration of the (1) benefits and harms each course of action may produce; (2) moral rights of affected parties, and course of action that respects those rights; (3) course of action that does not show favoritism or discrimination without justifiable reason; (4) course of action that advances the common good (
  • Systems thinking – ability to focus on the way that a system's constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems (
  • Comfort with ambiguity – tolerates or at ease with inexactness; open to more than one interpretation (
  • Growth mindset – belief that one’s basic abilities can be improved through dedication and hard work; that brains and talent are just the starting point (Mindset: The new psychology of success by Carol Dweck, 2007)
  • Communication – ability to convey or share ideas and feelings effectively through verbal and non-verbal exchange; includes listening as well as speaking (
  • Collaboration – ability to work with another individual or group to reach a common goal
  • Empathy – ability to indicate that others' feelings about issues are understood, and either take, or help them to take, action to resolve the problem (
  • Negotiation – ability to discuss and resolve an issue in a way that both parties find acceptable (
  • Relationship-curation – pursue and maintain contacts with those who have common interests or goals
  • Self-awareness – conscious knowledge of one's own character and feelings (
  • Accountability – an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one's actions (
  • Adaptability – ability to adjust to new conditions (
  • Planning/Organization – ability to set goals, outline and prioritize activities to meet those goals, and create a schedule for meeting them (Effective Planning and Time Management by Vivek Bindra, 2015)
  • Persistence – exert continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition (
  • Professionalism – dress, speech, and behavior reflective of appropriate workplace norms and respect for peers
  • Initiative – willingness to assess and get things done without being told what to do
  • Integrity – doing the right thing in a reliable way; honest and having strong moral principles that do not change (
  • Strategic vision – process in which images of future goals, objectives, and outcomes are made real and persuasive to serve as motivators for the present action (
  • Empowerment of others – actions intended to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority (
  • Project management – ability to initiate, plan, execute, control, and close the work of a team to achieve specific goals, and meet specific success criteria at a specified time (
  • Performance management – ability to ensure that set of activities and outputs meets an organization's goals in an effective and efficient manner; can focus on the performance of an organization, a department, an employee, or the processes in place to manage particular tasks (