…on Our Soft Skills? Much is said and written these days about soft skills and how important they are to business success. Often, the context of this discussion is the evolving influence of technology in our daily lives. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and any other technology that threatens (real or imagined) to replace humans in the workforce is a driving force behind the need and effectiveness of our soft skills. It’s as if we are less afraid of losing our hard skills and more afraid of our lack of soft skills and ability to think critically! Another context for this conversation is in the discussion of “skills gaps”. The November 2018 LinkedIn Workforce Report found the biggest “skills gap” is in San Francisco/Silicon Valley followed by New York City. The top 3 skill gaps in San Francisco/Silicon Valley are Oral Communication, Business Management and Leadership in that order. In New York City, the top 3 skill gaps are Oral Communication, Leadership and Digital Literacy in that order. So now we have a scenario where the mecca of digital communications can’t find people who can talk live and the most populated city in the country can’t find enough people who can carry on a live conversation! What the hell! I had the opportunity recently to interview a young (mid-twenties) candidate for a client. The conversation let to describing an opportunity to fund-raise in his previous role, something he stated he did quite well, compared to his peers. When asked what his secret was, he replied that most everyone else attempted to reach out to donors via email, text or social media where he had live conversations which generated much higher results. People do business with people they trust, and trust is rarely achieved without some level of live interaction! What these two examples, as well as the hundreds more I could personally document, tell us is the critical importance of the ability to communicate live and in person as a critical soft skill which a vast majority of the workforce is ignoring. Leadership is all about soft skills like effective communications (speaking AND listening), emotional intelligence and collaboration. A few more from my own personal experience, would be managing change, time management and critical thinking. Ask yourself, as you make time to set your goals for the new year, how much time and resources are you budgeting to strengthen your soft skills? Based on current trends, if it is not more than your investment in hard skills, you are likely falling behind! How are your soft skills helping you achieve your goals? Lead Well!
Rick, you were a former leader of mine (Sales Engineering-Sprint) and always a good mentor. I have gone back to that role (Spectrum).
I went back to school in my 50's and obtained a degree in leadership (just means I read to many darn books) from a local college and I appreciate this blog as it has value even in a individual contributor role and how to best communicate with a leader and executive.
This post on soft skills also provides a seasoned (senior) sprightly contributor a nice feel that we will always have a value in our ever changing digital world of learning and opportunity.
Thanks so much for your message! This clearly resonates with so many people of all ages and may be the defining skill that separate those who can and those who can't lead effectively.
Glad to hear you continued your education in leadership and look forward to hearing more of your successes. Remember, 50 is the new 30!
We text now instead of talking. We have lost the "art" of oral communication. Your article is Right on, Rick. Thank you.
Thanks so much for your note. The challenge is now helping those who rely more on technology than live conversation to see the degree it stunts success at any level!
Thanks and Merry Christmas!