Top Skills Today

We are on our own today. We work for ourselves.

Responsibility for one’s career and work life is 100% on the individual.

Career Development is your responsibility not the employer’s. You must be in the business of investing, inventing and developing yourself.

That means:

  1. Understanding Yourself
  2. Understanding the World

These are dynamic times and you must be dynamic and keep up.

Below is what you need to know about the top skills required in the new normal. This will be as good a summary as you will find on this subject!

Perhaps the key skill or behavior essential today is the ability to personally develop and manage yourself on a continual basis.

According to the late great management theorist Peter Drucker,

Knowledge workers are likely to outlive their employing organization. Their average working life is likely to be fifty years. But the average life expectancy of a successful business is only thirty years.

Increasingly, therefore, knowledge workers will outlive any one employer, and will have to be prepared for more than one job. And this means most knowledge workers will have to manage themselves. They will have to place themselves where they can make the greatest contribution; they will have to learn to develop themselves. They will have to learn how and when to change what they do, how they do it, and when they do it. They will have to learn to stay young and mentally alive during a fifty-year working life.

The key to managing oneself is to know: Who am I? What are my strengths? How do I work to achieve results? What are my values? Where do I belong? Where do I not belong?

Knowledge workers must be autonomous…

Knowledge is the central resource in a knowledge economy. [From Management Challenges for the 21st Century and Managing Oneself Corpedia Online Program]. Emphasis added.

Continuous and Active Learning
Change means learning. Growthful change (the only change that matters)

Learning really needs to be continuous and formal today. All the data and research insist on this. Skills are perishable. Because of this, we need to keep them fresh and in real time. Lynda Gratton has coined it serial mastery.

The global economy is very much sink or swim because of the need to continually improve skills and build upon existing strengths. To succeed today people need to develop ‘learning agility’ which Mike Lombardo defines as “the willingness and ability to learn new competencies in order to perform better under first-time, tough or different conditions. Learners are willing to go against the grain of what they know how to do and prefer to do. Why? To get better and to learn new skills and new ways of behaving.”

So – you might need to get: a degree, a trade, a diploma, or a certificate, and / or attend seminars, take courses, etc. At a minimum, we all need to have a career plan.

Upgrading needs to continue even as we get older. Concerns about age are becoming increasingly outdated. Age is no longer the issue that it once was. Do you know stuff?? Is it needed? That’s what really counts. Put a project proposal together.

In 1970, Alvin Toffler predicted that (in the future) we will all need to

learn, unlearn and relearn…the illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.

You must be well read – and be able to ‘gut the literature’. One study has suggested that people who cannot read at 400 words a minute in the modern world are functionally illiterate. [Mind maps chart the way to business efficiency, Journal: Education + Training, 1998 Issue 4]

Information comes at us faster than we can process it. Most people read at about 200 words a minute, but can be trained to read at 1,000 words a minute. So – speed-reading is another course to take!

Information Handling and Document Control:

  • being able to recognize the need for a particular piece of information
  • identifying, locating, then accessing appropriate sources of information
  • being able to evaluate the quality of the information
  • being able to organize the information
  • being able to use the information effectively
  • being good at following instructions
  • using effective filing system whether it is electronic or hard copy
  • understanding the principles of ‘Getting Things Done’ (GTD) workflow
  • keep in mind that the above is not just about ‘googling’. Information and knowledge is to be found everywhere, mostly in people. Do you know how to get it?

Strong communicators are in demand in a global economy. This is true across all fields. The authoritative written voice has begun to replace the authoritative physical voice. Donald Trump take note!

The ability to communicate is increasingly important in a globalized world where space and time recede in importance and all around the world people increasingly meet and interact beyond face to face space. Ambiguity is expensive. Simplify and clarify. Need to be brief, clear, jargon-free and to the point. Less is more today. Power notes, power proposals, power memos. Note: your resume and other written documents will be used as evidence of your communicating ability – get it all on one page!

Speaking and presenting well
Self-marketing. Knowing yourself really well, and being focused. You need to be able to communicate your unique value and the positive results you will deliver.

Working as part of a team; working harmoniously with others
What makes workers more valuable today is their ability to leverage “relationship capital”. Diversity of opinion and belief is growing in the workplace – do you have the social capacity to negotiate the diverse values and behaviors of your colleagues?

The human touch. Being empathetic means seeing other views, and experiencing the lives of others. In 1958 Daniel Lerner wrote The Passing of Traditional Society. He argued that people in traditional societies are bound to the past and traditional roles. Modern people (read globalized) are habituated to a sense of change. Because of this they have what he called a ‘mobile personality’ or ‘psychic mobility’. This enlarged personal identity allow a person to live in a “vicarious universe”.

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not stay bent out of shape”. As more 21st century organizations specialize in core activities and outsource the rest, they have greater need for workers who can interact with other companies, their customers, and their suppliers, all of which will be geographically dispersed.

Leading others
The best definition that I’ve run across for leadership is ‘having a positive influence on others’. Showing others a better way, a better future.

Helicopter ability
Seeing the big picture, the global view.

Thinking Skills

  • problem Solving
  • decision Making
  • critical Thinking
  • job Task Planning and Organization
  • significant Use of Memory
  • finding Information

Creativity and Applied Resourcefulness
It is not how many resources you have but rather your resourcefulness that makes you stand out today. Specifically, the ability to connect the seemingly unconnected to detect emergent value.

Technical Literacy
You must be able to work the smartphone powerfully! And the best apps.

There is a growing need to build business skills as we will be increasingly working in small team / project environments. The old hierarchical, command and control organization required you to be less than who you were, check your personality at the door, put a harness on and do some unskilled task(s). That world is gone. Today, every employee is a business in the new economy and having a personality matters.

I was explaining this Me Inc. concept to someone heading to Japan to teach English. I said, always think “Proposals for service”. He loves reading history so my hypothetical scenario was: do a little research, figure out if there could be a need for an educational module on a specific niche idea. Develop some basic materials, then approach (i.e. market) various schools with a great presentation on these modules. This would create income and develop individual learning on subjects he is strong in. This is the kind of customized, creative cobbling that works today because it presents real time value to people who want it.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is not just for self-employment. This same proactive attitude is needed within organizations (intrapreneurialism). Always look for a better way to do your job and approach your manager with a proposal. And again, have the confidence to tackle new material (learn, unlearn, relearn).

Here are some other perspectives on skills needed today:

There is the ‘Big Five’ dimensions from organizational psychologists:

  1. Extraversion
  2. Emotional stability
  3. Agreeableness
  4. Will to achieve
  5. Openness to experience

There is D.A.T.A. (Desires, Abilities, Temperament and Assets)

  • Desire – what do I really want to do with my life? What is my irrepressible passion?
  • Abilities – what do I do best; what am I really good at?
  • Temperament – what are the kinds of activities and situations that energize me?
  • Assets – what are my assets? What are my soft skills that make me unique as a person?

There are the ‘Nine C’s’

  1. Communication skills
  2. Connectivity skills
  3. Collaborative attitude and skills
  4. Convening and coordinating skills
  5. Congeniality and collegiality
  6. Caring for and championing clients
  7. Coaching and consulting skills
  8. Creativity
  9. Credibility

That’s a lot of stuff right? To pull this all together and get yourself up to speed to these new realities, sing up for my YOU+ program.