85% of your financial success is due to your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate,and lead. Shockingly, only 15% is due to technical knowledge.” – Carnegie Institute of Technology
Everyone wants to know what they will need to do to prepare for the future work economy. What skills will you need? What should you study? Based on my experience and knowledge, here’s what you’ll need to succeed in the future work economy.
- You’ll want to be an early adopter when it comes to technology. When I created the Building Business Relationships course back in 2013, the boomers who were advising me said, “Don’t do it. And they said don’t do it because the young company, Lynda.com (and now #LinkedInLearning), would own the content into perpetuity. However, when I visited the facility, I saw 500 22-year-old young people running around there, and something in my gut said, “I’ve got to be a part of this.” I threw caution to the wind, said no to traditional advice, and said “yes” to what I felt in my gut. Today, Building Business Relationships has been viewed over 400,000 times by people in 100 countries.
While online learning and teleconferencing has taken over, virtual reality will soon be much more accessible and will again change the way that business is done. For example, a company called Doghead Simulations is racing to be the first to marry Virtual Reality and teleconferencing. Instead of GoToMeeting, you’ll be able to see an entire conference room as if you were really there. Soon, keynote speakers will be piped in using VR. Teachers will give lectures remotely. The way we communicate and build relationships will never be the same.
- Discernment will be the most important soft skill. So many times, business is done in what I call the unspoken word; the intangibles; the ability to intuitively and instinctively evaluate what to do next. Business is not black and white–it is totally shades of grey.
For this reason, I have to agree with Mark Cuban when he suggests liberal arts degrees will be prioritized over technical degrees in the future work economy. His argument is that these degrees will cultivate the soft skills that cannot be replaced by technology.
The greatest soft skill to cultivate in the future work economy is discernment — the ability to read a situation or person properly and then react or respond accordingly.
Individuals who have a high level of discernment can understand “big picture” thinking–being able to connect the dots all the way from how the top of the c-suite is thinking about the vision to what execution looks like when you go to market. Employees in the future work economy will be expected to go far above the technical skill they are hired to do and will need to demonstrate that they understand how all the moving pieces connect in order to succeed.
When you practice effective discernment, you are able to build fluid relationships and mobilize networks quickly to get things done. Fluid relationships means understanding that different people think, work, and respond differently. You’ll need to be flexible and adapt on a dime.
So how can you tell if discernment is in your toolbox?
- Can you go and connect with a person based on where they are, how they think, and how they process?
- Do you understand how to read and adjust based on different personality types?
- Do you know how to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish and build a bridge from where you are and where you want to go to what others are trying to do for the greater good of the company, the business, or the cause?
- Just-in-time learning will also be critically needed. You gotta learn on the fly. You’ve got to be able to say, “I learned this right now. I apply it right now.” It’s like microwave learning. This is a learn-as-you-go society, and it’s moving.
Recently, a construction company brought me in to speak to about 450 of their sales representatives who are not into fluff, but they know that they need to get sharper when it comes to customer experience. These were meat and potatoes guys who weren’t into pixie dust, but they wanted to know how to add soft skills into the construction space.
To understand the needs of my audience, I spent a day with one of their sales representatives in St. Petersburg, Florida. I learned about their industry by spending almost 8 hours learning how they go about doing bids, sitting in on meetings, and riding around in the truck meeting clients. In order to effectively teach to this audience, I had to learn their industry on the fly and turn around and apply that learning to create a product that worked for that company.
The future work economy will be an environment that rewards strategic thinkers who see into the future, are quick to mobilize, and know when and how to change direction. It’s time to quit your job and go to work.
This is an article by Simon T. Bailey. Click here to check his profile page on our website, and read about his biography, speaking topics, keynotes, or clients.