What do you think? What are the top ten skills for 2025? Are they technical, collaborating with people, self-management, or problem solving? If you said all the above, you are right. However, would you have guessed that five involve problem solving, two involve self-management, two involve technology, and one involves collaborating with people. If you are like most people, you thought that technology would be the big one, but with artificial intelligence, and exponential growth with easier and faster technologies for us, the critical skills for the future are overwhelmingly what used to be called the soft skills. Today they are called the critical skills. It is estimated that about half of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. Let us look at these ten areas:
Analytical thinking and innovation
When you have gathered data and begin to dig deeper into that data looking for patterns, organizing it, and comparing data sets you are applying analytical thinking. You can take noisy data and make informed decisions based on where the data takes you. Using a growth mindset, you can take this information and apply it in news ways to fuel innovation.
Complex problem solving
Complex problem solving has and continues to evolve. Understanding how humans deal with global pressing problems involves psychological computer simulated scenarios. Learning from this analysis and applying lessons learned over the last 40 years will propel us into the 21st century.
Critical thinking and analysis
Analytical thinking is the process of breaking down big problems into smaller more manageable problems to give you a greater sense of progress while solving complex problems. Breaking elements into fundamental parts or processes is key. This allows for sound judgment to be applied by carefully evaluating and interpreting the information.
Creativity, originality, and initiative
Here you are talking about the ability to produce an idea and take constructive action. By using your imagination, making connections, and collaborating with others you can look for change and alternative view points to explore and try something new.
Reasoning, problem solving, and idea generation
This requires the consideration of costs and benefits. Note that these include business results, social impact and environmental impact evaluation applied to problem solving. Systems analysis and evaluation are fundamental to reasoning, problem solving developing ideas. Being able to listen and understand all stakeholders after defining the problem properly is key.
Active learning and learning strategies
Continual learning is fundamental for the future. Active learning may be with reading, writing, discussion, and/or problem solving. Promoting analysis, collaborating, and active in-class learning promotes opportunities for feedback on how well participants understand the material.
Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility
Resilience is how well you can recover positively towards others after receiving a setback. You can reduce your and others stress response the more you can maintain a sense of control, predictability, and a sense of progress. By knowing your and other’s ability to manage stress with emotional self-awareness, self-assessment, self-alignment, self-confidence, and looking for opportunities in the face of adversity promotes resilience and flexibility.
Technology use, monitoring and control
Staying current with technology, remote monitoring and managing technology to make sure it is working properly as well as being online and functional all the time is expected today. The expectations for IT support continue to expand as more user-friendly artificial intelligence elements are applied to systems. This ever-increasing level of expectations requires continual attention to maintain productivity and morale
Technology design and programming
The study of technology design and programming involves not only the study, design, development, application, support, and management of computer-based technology, but also other non-computer-based technologies. The purpose is to promote and communicate product design intent and the ability to apply the design effectively with all stakeholders.
Collaborating with people
Leadership and social influence
Leadership and social influence go hand in hand. Working with C-suite and leadership nationally this is what I think is the most important element and it cuts across all the other nine elements above. Developing emotional intelligence, conversational intelligence, and listening intelligence are critical to success. With an emphasis on quick text and email responses a lot can be lost relative to attitude and intention. As humans we tend to think the worst as a matter of survival. Knowing this, an emphasis on as a minimum a call, or even better a video call, or even better a face-to-face meeting allows for words, tone, facial expression, and body language to further enhance understanding in difficult situations.
Leadership training becomes even more critical. The ability to have face to face training with real world examples, discussion, and role plays allow for better learning and the ability for leaders to take appropriate actions with teams. Often new leaders think because they were an eagle, they simply need to turn their team into eagles too. Not everyone can be an eagle. Understanding that the group has diverse individuals with individual needs and wants, while addressing the mission, vision, goals, and values of the organization are the marks of a responsive leader.
Providing new hires with three types of mentors to address technical areas, explain the overall strategy of the organization, and how to really get things done enhances communication, inclusion, and understanding.
The new leader must learn that the leader is no longer evaluated by what they do, but how well the team performs. This takes some adjusting to by new managers. Providing the proper training to address these needs so that development of leaders is understood from the beginning pays off handsomely long term.
The source that motivated this commentary came from an article by Professor Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum. Working with CPAs, attorneys, C-Suite leadership, and business owners, I found his commentary to be profound. Do not underestimate the power of social influence to train and retain the best employees.