Conflicts at work? Trouble saying no? Hone your "harder skills."

Our own Amy Potthast was published in the latest issue of OnlyUp, a bimonthly online journal about issues facing young nonprofit employees.

Her article, Seven “Harder” Skills That Will Help You Grow as a Leader, begins:

In a recent Opinionator blog post from the New York Times, Gerald Chertavian—founder of Year Up, a fellowship program in the business sector—distinguishes between hard skills and “harder skills.”

“The merely hard skills are things that many training programs cover—for IT, it might be using software applications or installing hardware. The harder skills are more nuanced. They involve questions like: Do you know how to communicate in a team?…If you don’t have enough work, do you know to be proactive and ask for more?”

I agree. The nuanced people skills are so much harder—some take courage (like asserting yourself or effectively handling conflict); others take wisdom (like saying no gracefully, and leading others). All of them are essential for developing yourself as a leader—and will help your employer see you as a leader.

Here are seven valuable “harder skills” to pay attention to:

For the seven skills and how to hone ’em, visit


Find tons of articles about social change leadership at

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OnlyUp: New space for younger nonprofit professionals

By Amy Potthast.

This month the nonprofit sector has witnessed the auspicious launch of a new online magazine, OnlyUp.

OnlyUp was started by four recent college grads and bloggers experiencing the angst of navigating nonprofit careers without a road map, with a sense that the sector has not planned well enough to accommodate the growth of young leaders.

The upbeat, thoughtful, bi-monthly magazine aims to engage the sector in a forward-looking conversation about the “future of social change leadership,” embodying the cry of hope: “When you have nowhere else to go, the only way is up!”

But don’t mistake it as a GenY-only affair. The magazine gives voice to young nonprofit leaders – a voice that peers and the rest of us need to hear in order to recruit new talent and support the growth of our organizations in the coming decades.


By Tobias Myrstrand Leander (Flickr)

For example, in the current issue, articles include topics like:

Different from a blog that keeps on top of daily trends and happenings, OnlyUp offers more nuanced discussions of nonprofit sector dynamics and the complex experiences of young nonprofit employees.

Like the best blogs, however, the magazine encourages reader participation – not just inviting comments but also encouraging readers to pitch articles of their own to contribute.

Check it out and let us (and OnlyUp creators) know what you think!

Amy Potthast served as Idealist’s Director of Service and Graduate Education Programs until 2011. Read more of her work at

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