21 keys to professional growth

By: Chris Watson


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234 x 156mm
Pages : 272
ISBN : 9781785833526
Format: Paperback
Published: October 2018

Brimming with punchy, practical ideas to improve your day-to-day effectiveness, Chris Watson’s Upskill: 21 keys to professional growth is the definitive guide to developing the adaptive skills essential for success at work.

In Upskill, adaptive skills specialist Chris Watson delivers a dynamic snapshot of easy-to-access development possibilities – providing you with:

  • 840 user-friendly tools and techniques reflecting the latest thinking on how to extend capability, boost professional growth and take charge of your career.
  • A rich resource of reliable solutions, grouped around the twenty-one adaptive skills most valued by today’s employers – including creativity, collaboration and communication.
  • An abundance of proven approaches, topical insights, time-saving apps and inspirational videos, as well as helpful signposts to relevant quotes, books and other resources.

Each chapter focuses on one of the twenty-one skills, and begins with examples of how the individual skills – which can be practised and refined throughout a career, and have all been shown to be associated with greater operational agility – may be observed in the work environment. This brief introduction is then followed by forty practical ideas to develop the performance of people. Although there is no formal hierarchy to the list of suggestions, all of the ideas have been categorised into three inter-related clusters for ease of use – encompassing ideas for personal development, for delivering results and for long-term gain.

Within each of the three clusters, all of the ideas for professional growth have been laid out in terms of how they can help you respond and adjust to the requirements of your role and the ever-changing world of work:

  • Some of the suggestions are tools – apps, templates, downloads and inventories – which can be picked up and used/introduced straightaway.
  • Some of the suggestions are techniques – methods, approaches and procedures – for you to try out, investigate and explore.
  • The final set of suggestions indicate where to look for further inspiration – including films,podcasts, related research and a wide range of suggested reading materials.

The majority of the hints, tips and techniques can be actioned without having to access any external support or invest in any additional outlay, and are as useful for new starters in an organisation as they are for experienced managers.

Suitable for anyone who is committed to developing themselves and their colleagues, but may not have the time, the resources, the budget or the inspiration to know where to start.

Chapters include:

Key 1: Ability to Influence

Key 2: Commercial Thinking

Key 3: Commitment to Change and Adaptation

Key 4: Constructive Communication

Key 5: Creativity and Innovation

Key 6: Direction and Purpose

Key 7: Effective Planning and Organisation

Key 8: Enthusiasm for Customer Service

Key 9: Focus on Developing Others

Key 10: Interpersonal Awareness and Diplomacy

Key 11: Intuitive Thought

Key 12: Motivation to Succeed

Key 13: Ownership of Self-Development

Key 14: People Management and Leadership Potential

Key 15: Positive Decisions

Key 16: Professional Ethics and Social Responsibility

Key 17: Resilience and Emotional Control

Key 18: Results through Action

Key 19: Specialist Knowledge and Ability

Key 20: Teamwork and Collaboration

Key 21: Use of Information and Data

Click here to view the feature on The World of Learning’s blog.

Listen to Chris’ podcast with The Extraordinary Business Book Club here.

Picture for author Chris Watson

Chris Watson

Chris Watson is an award-winning specialist in the promotion of adaptive skills who founded Endor Learn & Develop in 2002 following a successful career in publishing and higher education. Incurably curious about all aspects of organisational behaviour, his aim is to strengthen relationships in the workplace by sharing straightforward solutions which people can relate to on a personal level.

Take a look at an overview on the Endor Learn & Develop site here.

Listen to Chris' podcast with The Extraordinary Business Book Club here.

Click here to read Chris Watson’s blog.


  1. This book is based on a ten-year study of the skills companies identified their employees were most in need of. The 21 skills that were highlighted - from creativity to influence and resilience - were attributes that would benefit employees at any stage of their career, whatever position they were in. These are called 'adaptive' skills.

    The author has laid out each of the 21 skills in its own chapter. Every chapter lists out specific tools, techniques and sources of inspiration.

    Overall, this book is a fantastic resource for professionals or leadership and development teams who want a menu of skills, tools and techniques to choose from. It will give them a great steer on growth opportunities. But as a book of bullet points and tips, without the substance or story to support the learning areas, it won't provide you with an opportunity to upskill yourself directly.
  2. If you want to develop yourself, your people and your teams, read Chris Watson's Upskill. Reflecting the growing trend towards self-directed learning, this do-it-yourself guide is filled with practical and innovative ideas that will help both you and your teams flourish!
  3. We live in an age of positive disruption which is only set to increase in the years ahead. The winners will be those individuals who are open to new ideas and actively focus on developing their learning agility. Upskill offers a huge range of tactical tools and intelligent ideas and approaches for long-term gain, which makes it so useful for anyone committed to developing themselves or others. 
  4. Upskill recognises that people sit at the centre of their own learning. It's refreshing to read a book that provides individuals with such a range of tools and techniques in one place, which can be accessed whenever they are needed. Chris Watson has clearly drawn on his extensive practical experience in the field. Great job.
  5. Compelling in its clarity, Upskill reflects the latest thinking on how to improve performance by building on strengths - helping individuals to learn at their own pace, in their own time. Anyone working in not-for-profit organisations, in the education sector or in other institutions outside of the corporate world will also find great value in this material.
  6. What a great wealth of ideas. Using a series of simple tools and techniques that are easy to understand and apply, Chris Watson has created a wonderful resource for anyone dealing with organisational issues or who has an interest in personal development. Every single one of the hundreds of options put forward is worth a read.
  7. Upskill is an interesting and thought-provoking book which challenges the reader to take stock of where they are and to consider how they can move forward. Each chapter provides a down-to-earth, inclusive and developmental approach, with the use of welcomed humour hooking the reader in. I can see this being a -˜go to' book for any professional!
  8. Chris Watson has created an invaluable resource, bringing together tips and techniques that really work for pretty much every situation you could imagine. It's a rich source of new ideas and inspiration and a timely reminder of things you knew but had forgotten - and even more than that it's a fantastic point of reference for both classic and bang-up-to-date resources in the spheres of productivity and performance. Highly recommended. 
  9. This handy compendium of development ideas is packed with a wealth of proven tools to help individuals take greater control of their professional development and build long-term learning agility. Upskill encourages constructive conversations about capability in the workplace, anchored around some of the most valuable adaptive skills. The structure of the book is both engaging and inviting, allowing learners to be more flexible in the way they discover, distil and direct each of the practical suggestions for professional growth. No fillers, abstract theories or tedious stories: just full of easy-to-apply tools.
  10. With Upskill Chris Watson has curated an accessible, practical and memorable toolkit which any established or aspiring leader should delve into as part of their ongoing development journey. Taking an evidence-based approach, each of the twenty-one keys unlocks a door  leading to a rich menu of resources, tactics and strategies. A book destined to spend very little time on the shelf.
  11. Upskill offers a highly relevant and very accessible toolkit that enables the reader to engage with a variety of tools and techniques to enhance their personal and professional development at the point of need. The -˜Inspiration' sections provide insights and additional resources that directly navigate the reader to a plethora of supporting narratives, and the book's smorgasbord approach is both flexible and focused - ensuring that individuals can easily identify the areas which will have the most positive impact for themselves and their organisations.
  12. Business is facing a new wave of complexity. Wrong response: create more processes and systems and add structures, control and committees - this complicatedness chokes productivity and satisfaction at work. Right response: better utilise people's intelligence, leverage their adaptiveness, strengthen their problem-solving skills and grow the individual rather than the bureaucracy. Upskill provides tools and guidance to help achieve this, and enables readers to better face complexity without getting complicated - the essence of vitality.
  13. In our busy work lives there needs to be a guide or a textbook to dip in and out of for inspiration and assistance, and to provide us with that -˜light bulb' moment when reflecting on and developing our personal development. Upskill does exactly that. Its format and layout offers easy access without getting bogged down with too much jargon and academic distraction.
  14. None of us can claim to be perfectly efficient and effective. These are personal attributes one can only strive to improve, and Upskill is a gem for anyone with that aspiration. Readers will gain immense and individual value from Upskill's rich content by learning concepts, techniques and tools that are new to them, and by being reminded of others forgotten.
  15. An extremely useful guide to developing the techniques that will unleash the performance potential inside us all. Upskill provides a springboard for self-development and personal fulfilment, and is an excellent addition to the field of performance psychology.
  16. Upskill provides a comprehensive account of personal and professional growth areas which everyone should be thinking about in terms of their own development. It is positive, easy to read and is based on in-depth knowledge of the subject - a welcome addition to the literature.
  17. A user-friendly treasure trove of growth opportunities, with amazingly useful and current content. It's ideal as a resource to support any development work to broaden an individual's horizons, and offers a good starting point from which to promote self-learning and encourage people to take responsibility for their own development. 
  18. Upskill is a great resource for anyone who wants development but is too busy to access it. The book just begs to be dipped into, whether it be while travelling, during lunchtime or at various points during the day. A bit like a freshly liquidised management and leadership development programme, this resource is there whenever you want a quick sip of knowledge and current management thinking. Business leaders and those in the self-employed consultancy market will find the book especially helpful.
  19. Any format that allows you to understand a concept quickly, and shows you how to make best use of it, is going to be useful. This comprehensive book is a cornucopia of tools, models and techniques that will help leaders and managers improve their skills and be more effective. Flick through and have a go.

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