Today’s business landscape is changing more rapidly than ever. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for businesses to be agile, adaptable and forward-thinking.
Perhaps surprisingly, at a time when most businesses are increasingly reliant on technology, the human element is still the key to success. As the technical aspects of many jobs become automated, skills such as communication, teamwork and empathy are rising to the forefront in the workplace.
In a crowded job market where unemployment is continuing to rise, these so called ‘soft skills’ are the ones that will set you apart and give you a competitive advantage. Contrary to popular belief, social and interpersonal skills are not embedded in our personalities from birth – they can be learned through training and coaching.
These are some of the top skills employers are looking for in 2021:
1. Creative thinking
Creative thinking is not just relevant for those in ‘creative’ industries such as art, design or music. The ability to generate new ideas and think outside the box to come up with imaginative solutions to problems, are sought-after skills for employees in any field.
2. Communication skills
This is a huge area, encompassing not only your face-to-face interactions but also your digital communication with clients, colleagues, team members and senior managers. Being able to present information in a clear, accurate and appropriate manner will help you advance your career and improve your relationships.
3. Time management
Knowing how to organise both your daily and long-term schedule to get your projects done efficiently and on time is particularly important when so many people are working remotely. Are you disciplined enough to set goals for yourself and focus on your work without a manager looking over your shoulder?
4. A growth mindset
People with a growth mindset are motivated to learn new skills to adapt to changes and reach higher levels of achievement. They recognise that learning is a life-long process and that investing in yourself is essential if you want to get ahead.
This past year has highlighted the need for employees to cope well with change in the workplace. Having the ability to respond effectively even when things don’t go as planned and embracing new ways of working are also key for anyone in a leadership position.
6. Emotional intelligence (EQ)
Professional networking site LinkedIn identified emotional intelligence as one of the top five soft skills employers were looking for in 2020 and its importance has not diminished in the last 12 months. Emotional intelligence refers to your ability to recognise and manage both your own and other people’s emotions. Highly developed EQ skills enable you look at situations from other perspectives, treat your co-workers with empathy and better navigate the interpersonal relationships that develop in the workplace.
‘Team work makes the dream work’ but sometimes collaborating with your co-workers is easier said than done. Learning to trust others, exchanging ideas and working as a group will pave the way for a more productive, efficient and harmonious workplace.
8. Active listening
Being an active listener is not just about concentrating on what the other person is saying. You have to engage in the conversation by asking questions, making eye contact and nodding. Perhaps most importantly, active listening means withholding judgement about what is being said and not interrupting to make your own point. In short: listen to understand, not to respond.
How do you measure up?
If you would like to improve in any of these areas, why not sign up for our 5 or 7-week course Leading with Emotional Intelligence? These online accredited programmes will unlock your personal and social intelligence to help you manage your emotions better and become the best version of yourself. The Premium version also focuses on the skills you need to lead with emotional intelligence. If you would like to find out more, please contact Richard Cullinan ([email protected]) to set up a no-obligation Zoom call.