The 5 Skills That Matter For The Future of Work And How To Build Them

Ok, we kick off our series at the most logical place.

The beginning. Of course!

Now we’ve solved that mystery, let’s get serious (or as serious as my brain will allow me)

I hope you’ve noticed the weekly report breakdowns in Tuesday’s edition. I mean, I’m really hoping. Otherwise, I might be heartbroken.

→ At this point, I’ve analysed nearly 20 reports on the Future of Skills.

Yes, riveting, I’m aware.

Over the next month, my goal is to unpack the key insights with you. I aim to equip you with the stuff you actually need to know and how to apply it in your work and career.

Our first stop is getting to the good stuff immediately.

The 5 skills that matter in the Future of Work

I hate presentations where you wait an hour or two for the answer.

That’s not how I work, so here’s the headline data you need to know.

From my report crunching, these 5 skills appeared in the top 10 of every single one I read.

We can call these the top trending skills across the dataset.

If you take only one thing away from today’s conversation, let it be this:

 Double down on these 5 skills to go far in your career.

Simple, right?

And… maybe an even more important takeaway, the future is certainly human-powered.

Trust but verify: The data behind this

The last year of report breakdowns has given me a Sherlock Holmes worth of investigative material.

I’m not going to list every single report. I highly doubt you’ll delve into them as it’s my job to make it easier for you after all. However, these are the 5 companies from which I’ve pulled the most insights with their large reach.

  • Microsoft
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • McKinsey & Company
  • World Economic Forum
  • Bain & Company

You’ve probably seen breakdowns from these in past editions.

Find a library of these here ←

The great disruptor: Generative AI

2023 will go down as the year of AI.

Each of the reports I’ve analysed takes in the meteoric rise of this technology and how it influences our modern skills. I don’t believe we can talk about skills this year without those two little letters in AI. The way we live and work is obviously affected by this.

It’s happening whether we like it or not.

The real question is how does it impact the skills we need to succeed?

From my analysis so far my bet is firmly on doubling down on our human skills. With each new report I sink my brain into, this only solidifies the need to tap into our most human abilities.

We must be aware of this societal shift but not consumed by it.

An ominous statement I’m aware.

Deconstructing the 5 skills

Fret not, I’m not going to leave you high and dry with no actionable takeaways.

Let’s dive into each of the 5 skills to unpack what they mean and how you can nurture these in your work.

1/ Analytical Judgement

This goes beyond merely crunching numbers or drawing conclusions from a set of data. It’s a cognitive process that involves several interconnected abilities:

  1. Critical Thinking
    This is the foundational element of analytical judgement. Critical thinking enables you to objectively evaluate information and issues by breaking them down into their core components.

    It involves questioning assumptions, identifying biases, and understanding various viewpoints.

  2. Problem-Solving
    Analytical judgement is often employed in problem-solving scenarios. It involves a combination of creative thinking to generate solutions and analytical thinking to evaluate them.

  3. Logical Reasoning
    This is the ability to sequence information in a way that allows for sound conclusions. Logical reasoning often involves the use of frameworks or models to make sense of a complex situation.

    Basically, it makes the complex sound simple.

  4. Decision-Making
    Ultimately, analytical judgement is aimed at making informed decisions.

    You synthesise all the information you’ve gathered and weigh against the potential risks and benefits, to choose the best course of action.

→ How to Improve

  • Explore critical thinking exercises: Seek out different points of view. Be intentional in how you assimilate information to make your conclusions.

  • Get comfy with data: Understanding the basics of data analysis can your thinking processes.

  • Decision-Making frameworks: Familiarise yourself with popular decision-making frameworks like SWOT analysis or the Eisenhower Box to improve your decision-making skills.

2/ Creative Thinking

I get this one can always sound a bit ambiguous.

Let’s bring some structure to this together.

Creative thinking is not just an innate talent but a skill that can be developed and honed. It’s a cognitive process that allows you to break free from conventional thought patterns and explore new ways of solving problems.

Its various dimensions include:

  1. Divergent Thinking
    The ability to generate multiple solutions to a single problem.

    Unlike convergent thinking, which aims to find the single best answer to a problem, divergent thinking opens up the field of possibilities.

  2. Innovation
    Creative thinking is closely tied to innovation.

    It’s about not just solving problems but doing so in new and unique ways that add value.

  3. Imagination
    The ability to visualise scenarios and solutions that do not yet exist. Imagination allows you to explore ‘what could be,’ providing a playground for your creative thoughts.

  4. Flexibility
    Creative thinking often involves the ability to switch between different types of thought processes and perspectives.

  5. Risk-Taking
    Creative thinking often involves stepping out of your comfort zone and being willing to take risks. This doesn’t mean reckless abandon but a calculated approach to trying something new.

→ How to Improve

  • Collaborate with Others: Different perspectives can spark new ideas, so don’t pass up the chance to connect with your fellow humans.

  • Set aside time for creativity: Whether it’s a ‘creative hour’ each week or a day each month, make time for brainstorming and free thinking. I like to partake in a bit of mind-wandering myself.

3/ Digital Intelligence

I hope this is a straightforward one.

We live in a world dominated, connected and integrated with digital technology. The best way to survive and thrive in it is by understanding how to leverage all of its tools.

You can’t stick your head in the sand anymore because that sand is now a digitally connected landscape.

Your digital intelligence is a blend of technical proficiency, digital citizenship, and cognitive skills.

Here’s a more nuanced look at its various components:

  1. Technical proficiency
    Understanding how to operate various digital tools and platforms, from basic software like Microsoft Office to more specialised tools like Adobe Creative Suite or programming languages.

  2. Digital literacy
    Beyond just knowing how to use tools, digital literacy involves understanding the “language” of these tools.

    This includes everything from understanding user interfaces to interpreting data analytics.

  3. Protect your data
    With the increasing number of cyber threats, a key aspect of digital intelligence is understanding how to protect oneself and your organisation from digital risks.

    This includes everything from password management to understanding how to identify phishing scams.

  4. Be good 
    Tech use involves understanding the ethical implications of your digital actions. Think about copyright laws and understand the societal impact of algorithms.

  5. Adaptability
    The digital landscape is ever-changing. New tools and platforms emerge daily. Be an early adopter always.

→ How to Improve

  • Experiment: Try new tools and don’t be afraid to fail. You gotta find what works for you and enhances your life and work. Ignore the market.

  • Engage in digital conversations: Blogs, social media and newsletters (like this one) can keep you in the loop of the latest, greatest and most useful stuff you need to know.

4/ Adaptability

I know this is an overused word both in life and work.

Yet, we can’t deny its importance. Essentially, it’s being a chameleon and moving with change rather than resisting it. A real mind-f**k for our biology.

Although it sounds simple, it’s a more complex interplay of several attributes and attitudes:

  1. Emotional resilience
    The ability to stay calm under pressure and maintain a positive outlook despite challenges.

    Let’s be real, this is super hard and to be quite honest, I don’t have all the answers to it. We each have our own methods.

  2. Learning agility: Be willing to quickly learn new information and skills, especially in the face of new challenges. This enables you to smoothly pivot in your career.

  3. Open-mindedness 
    We all need to listen to others’ perspectives.

    Being willing to change your own views and approaches when presented with new information is hard, yet can be a great unlock for each of us.

→ How to Improve

  • Embrace Change: Mix up small habits in your daily routine to become more comfortable with change. Take different paths when you go for a walk or go to the gym at a different time. Make the mind build new experiences.

  • Seek different experiences: The more diverse your experiences, the more adaptable you’ll become. This could mean taking on different types of projects at work or travelling to new places.

  • Listen closely: Spend more time actually listening to people rather than considering your response. You’ll be amazed at what you can pick up.

5/ Social Influence

Don’t get confused.

This has nothing to do with having a large online following or being popular. This is a nuanced skill that involves a range of competencies and attributes.

Here’s a more in-depth look:

  1. Communication
    This is the cornerstone of social influence. This is more than talking to fellow humans. It’s about actively listening and being able to read between the lines.

  2. Emotional Intelligence
    Often classed as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as those of others. A high emotional intelligence can help to navigate social situations effectively, build rapport, and influence people positively.

  3. Leadership Skills
    This isn’t about directing people but inspiring and motivating them to achieve a common goal.

  4. Credibility
    To influence others, you need to be seen as credible and trustworthy. This means shaving a track history of actually doing the things you talk about.

→ How to Improve

  • Get comfortable talking: Whether it’s through public speaking, talking to a friend or watching others. Improving your communication is key to increasing your social influence.

  • Build Emotional Intelligence: Practice empathy and active listening to understand others better. Easier said than done, of course.

  • Be consistent: Do what you say you will do and live by your actions not just words.

Final thoughts

Ok friend. Let’s leave it here for today.

Next time, we’ll explore the next 5 year outlook for the skills economy.

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Before you go… 👋

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