Sound familiar? Have you worked with someone who has clearly shone in their technical area of expertise, but lost the human element along the way? Do they seem to be speaking another language altogether?
Most sought after capability
It might surprise you to know that a recent Deloitte study: The Path to Prosperity (2019), predicts ‘that by 2030, around two-thirds of jobs will be ‘soft-skilled’ intensive’. With the focus on technology and digital tools, I was surprised to read this statement. But when I think about it further it makes sense. More and more repetitive, routine and ‘no-brainer’ tasks are going to be the domain of AI and robots. The non-routine roles, the ability to adapt to unknown variables and respond appropriately requires more than automation. The ability to work effectively within this environment will be a key consideration for future secure employment.
Deloitte’s report (2019) draws on data that shows demand for communication skills at 71 per cent…and supply at 26 per cent! This deficit among leaders directly effects the growth and progress of individuals, teams and entire organisations. Huge opportunity exists for those ready to embrace it!
What are soft skills?
It has been suggested that soft skills can be categorised into: personal competence (personal awareness and self-management), and social competence (social awareness and managing relationships).
Soft skills are found in our behavioural competencies, our personality traits and personal attributes (compared with hard skills that are developed through training or formal learning). Skills such as emotional awareness and judgement, a high level of communication skills, and solid self-management skills.
Thinking for a change
In today’s world, people need to feel that their lives and roles have purpose – that we are not working in automation mode, but are applying our unique selves (our thinking) to things that matter.
Within our Advancing Leaders and Wellbeing & Resilience programmes, we coach people into the art of self-awareness. It’s an inside-out approach that creates sustainable and authentic change. John Maxwell (Thinking for a Change, 2003) explains why starting with our thinking will hugely impact our performance:
Thinking influences beliefs,
Beliefs influence expectations,
Expectations influence attitude,
Attitude influences behaviour,
Behaviour influences performance, and
Performance influences life!
It is maybe no surprise that employees value the opportunity for one-to-one connection. To feel heard, understood, validated and supported in growth is a key achievement of effective coaching conversations. The additional beneficial outcome of this on-going process is the depth of relationship, productivity and loyalty that grows between the coach and coachee, and of course the mutual development in the two soft-skill categories of personal and social competence (see my article ‘The Value of Coaching, March 2021).
Before we can achieve social competence, we need to develop personal competence (remember: inside-out principle!)
Begin with practices that foster self-awareness (such as journaling, self-reflection, peer reflection conversations, development of personal mission charter, personal character values and goals etc). This will create self-insight and can provide direction for our further development and careers.
Next, look for a person that has the soft skills/experience you need to develop. Create the opportunity to be mentored/coached by them, or at the very least, to work alongside them – then observe, adopt, plan and act.
Prepare yourself now for opportunities that will present themselves in the future. Adopt the development of soft-skills to widen your career options and become the effective communicator and not the technical robot!
Author: Eden Hersey | Communications Project Leader
Kānuka Wellbeing & Leadership Ltd
“Building wellbeing and leadership practices that support individual growth and organisational prosperity.”