Code, big data, the metaverse, the internet of things, network security, algorithms, AI…there’s a massive laundry list of technical knowledge you must possess to make it big in the tech space today. And that’s before we even step into sector specific intricacies-, customer insights, service, and brand-specific skills – or keeping up with the fast-paced development of emerging trends and competitive pressures. Hard not to get overwhelmed.
While technical skills are fundamental, there is another set of skills that can be as, if not more, critical to your career ascension. Often referred to as soft skills, they are more subtle and elusive than, say, your SQL or C++20 prowess.
Soft skills sidle up to emotions and insights. They are attributes, traits, inherent social cues and communicative skills that lean into influencing people and can lubricate your journey to success in both roles and profession. This is the territory of being able to demonstrate empathy, inclusive communication and bias recognition – but also critical thinking, problem solving, public speaking, teamwork and having an overall attitude brimming with professionalism.
In 2018, the World Economic Forum published its “Future of Jobs” report, designed to equip brands, organizations and governments with foresight on what to expect in a four-year period up to 2022. The overall theme was that the global economy was undergoing major transformations – from technological breakthroughs moving the boundary between work tasks performed by humans and those by machines (or algorithms) to changes in global labor markets.
While the World Economic Forum didn’t predict the pandemic (join the queue), it did identify the top emerging skills for the future. What showed up was startling - that the skills singled out in the Future of Jobs report were, predominantly, soft skills.
In fact, a number of recent, high-profile surveys and reports have identified soft skills as crucial for a successful career. Fresh off the press, the 2022 Workplace Learning Trends Report by Udemy Business, rallied to promote the language around “soft”, upleveling them to “power skills”.
We support this idea of “rebranding” soft skills, because we witness them to be a super power when it comes to career progression.
So what are they? And how can you master them? Here are the top three we believe you should focus on.
The Top 3 Power Skills
1. Critical thinking
Ever since Socrates distilled a method of asking probing questions to scrutinize “facts” before accepting them, critical thinking has played a pivotal part in human history. And will continue to do so.
Analyzing all available facts before forming a judgment sounds obvious, and yet is often overlooked in the decision-making process. To have the confidence to question, probe, analyze and then base your decision on your findings – even if they go against your original perception – is most definitely a skill. It is especially valuable in roles where the outcome impacts an entire organization, such as product/service design and strategy. In the tech world, critical thinking also means the ability to think thoroughly and deliberately at every stage of R&D where there are gaps in data sets and therefore a number of hypotheses must be tested.
The adage “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” may well be a cliché, but in reality, it should live in the boardrooms of business. Never a truer word said by children and pure logic can sometimes lurk in plain sight.
2. Emotional intelligence
EQ (as opposed to IQ) refers to the ability to perceive, control, reason and evaluate emotions. It requires self-knowledge and empathy and is a critical ability when it comes to interpersonal communication – and has become a hot topic in the business world in recent years.
Having a high EQ is critical to your success. Not only does it help you be a better C-suite once you reach those heights, but it helps you get there in the first place. According to a CareerBuilder survey, almost 75 percent of hiring managers value an employee's EQ more than their IQ.
We are all in the people business. Having great EQ helps forge stronger relationships that in turn aligns agendas and ultimately streamlines operations. It also enhances other necessary skills needed in the tech world, such as teamwork, influencing skills and client management.
And it’s not just other people’s emotions and feelings that EQ helps decipher – your own work performance can be radically improved if you recognize the symptoms of stress and take appropriate action in time.
3. Problem solving
A constant stream of problems and obstacles are guaranteed in personal and work life. Having a solid skill-set to work through them can be the difference between overcoming them or being overpowered by them. In the world of tech, solving problems is the MO.
When you unpack problem-solving skills you discover they are actually a combination of various soft skills. You will need the ability (and patience) to listen to people in order to recognize and analyze the problem. You also need enough creativity (including the ability to come up with those famous “outside the box” moments) and communication skills to present the possible solutions. You are essentially creating something that doesn’t exist yet.
For brands, having someone on a team with proven problem-solving skills is critical for business reinvention and maximization – this enables the business to continuously handle difficult challenges and corral new solutions – and is often more valued and appreciated and valued than a strong technical team per se.
In the same way you develop hard or technical skills, you can develop soft skills:
join workplaces that encourage divergent, 360-degree thinking around challenges
learn from leaders and role models who possess the exquisite ability to take a team on a journey and drive outcomes that tap the collective power of the group
invest in personal development so you are more self-aware and can continuously tweak behaviors that do not serve you, or your colleagues
seek feedback-rich environments so you continue to grow
hone communication skills by engaging in communication courses that coach listening, influencing and problem-solving skills
embrace diversity in the workplace which offers the gift of different perspectives
Ready to find your next high-profile tech role and start putting those power skills into action? Get in touch: https://www.goodsoulhunting.com/candidates