Leverage Your Soft Skills to Meet the Global Workplace Transformation
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin.
Change is happening faster than ever in every sphere of our lives with the Fourth Industrial Revolution gaining momentum. Organizations are embracing technology. Technology is merging more and more with human lives. Keeping the pace, reskilling, learning new skills, adapting to new ways are some of the key factors that will determine your future in the workplace. Organizations need more from employees and vice-versa. A massive shift in how we work will be required to keep up with the pace and sail through this journey smoothly.
As per LinkedIn’s annual Global Talent Trends 2019 report, the four trends transforming workplace are:
- Soft skills
- Work flexibility
- Pay transparency
Machines don’t have soft skills
As AI and automation continue to have a hold, strong soft skills are emerging as the human skills that machines can’t replace. As such, it’s vital that employees of the future know how to leverage communications, creativity, and other soft skills if they want to make an impact.
The World Economic Forum reports that employees will need the 10 skills listed below to not just survive, but to thrive in the emerging workplace:
- Critical thinking
- Complex problem solving
- People management
- Service orientation
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgement and decision making
- Cognitive flexibility
Are you ready for the workplace of the future? Begin by asking yourself these three questions:
- How do you see yourself in relation to these 10 soft skills?
- Do you have a plan to master these skills?
- What training or mentorship would you need to learn or improve any of these skills?
If you’re thinking about shifting your focus to developing your repertoire of soft skills, the first transformation must come from within. Only when you make a choice to learn, re-learn, upskill and open your mind to adapting to change, will you be able to achieve your goals. The ‘know-it-all’ mindset will not take you far. In contrast, an open mindset will allow you to sow the seeds of positive transformation.
Because the strengths and weaknesses of leaders are mirrored by their teams and the people they serve; it is imperative for organizational leaders to first develop their own soft skills to be able to inspire every other person in their circles of influence. The ability to identify candidates who possess soft skills, hiring managers and recruiters must already embody them. It is equally important for business leaders, HR professionals, and other members of the organization to frequently reflect on these skills and adopt systems that provide ways for individuals to improve their skills. Growth and development programs are essential for organizations hoping to create exceptional cultures and organizations that contribute to the holistic growth of the economy.
Communication skills are leadership tools
Since communication skills are some of the most powerful and effective leadership tools, it’s important to take a deeper dive on ways managers and executives can more effectively leverage these skills. There is no scarcity of information in today’s world of instant answers and immediate communication. Information is plentiful! Possessing communications skills means that you have the acumen to be able to sort through the noise to find the right information and the appropriate particulars and the sensitivity to know the right moment to share those insights to elicit the desired and preferred outcome.
The challenge is to communicate clearly and concisely at the right moment when there is so much thinking and overthinking happening in the world. Many a times, we give what is not asked for, we tell without reflecting, we decide based on our perceptions, we assume and create things which aren’t desired at all.
Here are some ways as to elevate your communication to be able to fulfil the bigger intention of having the conversation in the first place:
- Before communicating, get the data and facts clear. Don’t assume anything and share based on the assumptions. Here technology can be leveraged to support you with concrete data.
- Reflect and question your intention before communicating. Is your intention personal or is it for the overall good of what you are creating or wanting to create? Pondering on this question will help you decide which messages to deliver and which to hold back or modify.
- Communicate to find a solution. Communicating out of defensiveness changes our being, gives it a fear-based tonality guided by ego instead of purpose. When we are defensive, we tend to miss out one of the most important aspects of communication, i.e. listening.
- Commit to listening. Committed listening is where your body, mind, emotions and spirit are fully present while you are listening. Really listening increases your ability to absorb ideas without making judgements.
- Don’t avoid difficult conversations. If you do, ask yourself “Why?” Many times we will realise that our communication style is the projection of our inner world. The calmer we are from within, the more we will know what to say and what not to say. When we have a hidden agenda and when there is perceived conflict, we are tempted to run away from communicating because we are fearful of the outcomes. Establishing trust is one of the most important components of communication. The importance of laying the foundation of trusts for any communication is very important.
Finding connections through communications
Building rapport, deep listening, using intuition, asking powerful questions and giving constructive feedback will open doors to effective communications.
The best communications happen when you can form connections with the person or group you’re addressing. Connections begin by showing interest in people and being vulnerable. Vulnerability is key to forming deep connections and thereby ensuring clear and open communications. Showing vulnerability means you are willing to let your guard down and show others that you are communicating from a place of trust and openness.
Intuition plays a critical role in today’s machine-driven world. To be able to hear what is not said and not backed by data, puts you in a very advantageous position. Intuitive abilities can be developed through meditation, mindfulness, being aware of yourself, acknowledging your body sensations, being tuned into your gut feeling. Only when you can quiet your mind from all the chatter and noise around you, will you be able to hear and become more aware of the subtle cues that will help you make the right choice.
We tend to delete, distort and generalise data and information based on our beliefs, conditioning, values, and our perceptions of who we are. This leads to massive confusion and derailment of the purpose of communication. Being aware of ourselves first is the key. Only then, can we be open to understanding others.
Here are 7 ways to growing your soft skills:
- Be aware of what needs improvement. It is important to conduct a skills gap analysis. Once you are aware what needs improvement, you can then work towards improving and leveraging those skills.
- Develop a growth mindset. Reading helps improve our cognitive abilities and our creativity. You’ll find every highly successful person is a reader.
- Challenge your ways of doing things. Do things you have never tried before. Build your leadership muscle by being agile, embracing different perspectives, new ways, out of the box thinking, by taking risks. Lean against your fears, move out of your comfort zone. Set unimaginable goals for yourself and back it up with small actions daily.
- Surround yourself with people and groups that elicits the best in you. Be open to critical feedback. Integrate learnings from your role models whom you think have the soft skills you want to work on.
- Embrace shadow learning. Work with a mentor who will share their journey in acquiring the skills that you want to acquire.
- Hire a coach. A career coach will not only help you develop your innate gifts, but will also show you your blind spots, hold you accountable for your progress, help you strategize, uncover your psychological barriers, enable you to challenge yourself, and guide you to be the best version of yourself.
- Just go for it. Just do it. Instead of always looking outside yourself to find someone who will tell you what needs to be done and what not to do, raise your own awareness to find the solutions that are right for you. There is infinite intelligence and wisdom inside you, only when you choose to connect with that, will you be able to leverage your strengths and pave the way for mastering new skills.
It is important to unlearn and re-learn old habits and patterns. It takes practice to integrate new skills into our beings and we must be consistent with the actions that we take to make these ways of being a part of who we have become. During this journey, most of us will falter but getting up again and continuing to walk the path is the key. We all desire success, but only desire will not lead to the achievement of our goals. A powerful intention backed by committed actions will take us closer to our goals. Likewise, if we must leverage our strengths and skills, we must commit ourselves to consistent daily actions and to not giving up. The more infinite our goals are, the higher we raise the benchmarks for ourselves. Welcome to the world of learning and growth. Enjoy your journey.