The Highest Paying Career Skills

Highly-paid directors and executives have asked for my help to perform some very complicated tasks: inserting images into PowerPoint and basic formatting on Word documents. Seriously. Now, I’m not belittling their ignorance – “We’re all ignorant on different subjects.” I’m simply wondering if basic computer skills aren’t what brings in the high compensation, then which skills do?

Where the Buck Stops

The highly paid employees at my company are those who have to accept responsibility for decisions. They’re the people who can actually sign checks and allocate budgets. So just don’t develop, but demonstrate your ability to make decisions and accept responsibility for them. No blaming – no scapegoating.

Other People’s Mojo

These highly paid employees can get other people to do things for them. Like getting me to do their menial document creation and formatting. Einstein once said something about not cluttering his mind with facts and information easily accessible in books. What I’ve learned from our company’s executives is that they draw on others’ talents as they need them.

Henry Ford’s real genius was this ability to gather and channel talented people; people whose talents far exceeded his own in many respects.

As you develop your own higher paying skills, the trick will be to enlist others’ abilities without making them feel like expendable assets (something our execs have not attempted to master).

Pursue Opportunities More Than Problems

This high paying career skill takes courage and discipline. The most effective (often highest paid) people in business let firefighters put out the flames of minor problems. They devote their time and energy identifying and developing growth initiatives.

We can get addicted to crisis management. Focusing on problems instead of opportunities stalls our careers and our businesses.


So based on my observations as an underling at some very large corporations, these are three of the highest paying skills worth developing:

  1. Make effective decisions and own responsibility for them.
  2. Identify and channel other people’s talents to accomplish things.
  3. Deliberately ignore problems in favor of opportunities.

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About Steven Churchill

Steve is a learning strategist and instructional designer who’s successfully created training programs for thousands of employees in many industries and for a well-known consulting firm. He runs his own instructional media company, Didactable, LLC.