Helen has a great ability to connect with people. She is interested in their lives and they enjoy being around her. In one-on-one meetings, people warm to her authenticity and good humour. But in large group presentations she was often overcome with fear. She really wanted to be able to take her friendly demeanour into presentations, so that she could inspire groups of people with her point of view about the future. She realised that she was nervous because she had her attention on herself and not the value that she could provide to the audience. She shifted her focus and practised and practised until she conquered her fear of presenting.
Helen was developing her so-called soft skills. According to a Deloitte Access Economics report soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030. They argue that formal qualifications and technical skills are only part of the requirements for modern employees. Soft skills and personal attributes are just as important to success. Indeed ten of the sixteen ‘crucial proficiencies in the 21st century’ identified by the World Economic Forum are non-technical.
Soft skills are also referred to as employability skills and are transferable between industries and occupations. They include things like communication, teamwork, digital literacy and problem solving, as well as emotional judgement, professional ethics and global citizenship. The volatility of the industrial revolution 4.0 we are now entering will automate many routine technical skills. But businesses will need leaders who have a point of view about the future and can solve the big strategic challenges of how to capture the opportunities and avert the threat of this disruptive era.
In Helen’s case, her soft skills have enabled her to transition from a technology leadership role, to general management. As well as changing professions, she has also moved industry sectors. Her point of view about the future is compelling and has also led to her being appointed to prestigious board roles. Her soft skills are her transferable skills.
Developing your soft skills is like having your own parachute; they will help you future proof yourself for the volatile times ahead.
Are you future proofing yourself?
Best regards, Brian
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