The X-Factor=Soft Skills
If you have been following the wave of changes due to the technological disruptions caused by Industry 4.0 then you know that developing your soft skills is the x-factor for current and future career success. If you have not been paying attention, then you really need to thank God that you stumbled upon this article. But what exactly are soft skills? Lei Han, the founder of Be My Career Coach, defines soft skills as, “skills we use to interact with others at work” and “these are the skills to help us manage self-perception and our reactions to adverse situations.” Don’t let the name fool you because having the right balance of soft skills and technical skills can be what lands you your big promotion. For example, if an employer is debating between hiring you and the candidate that has more technical skill experience, your ability to showcase and highlight your soft skills could possibly be what gives you the competitive edge over your competition.
What Are the Must Have Skills?
Sure there are a plethora of soft skills out there to consider when focusing on your own personal and professional development, but IMar Learning Solutions’ Critical Thinking Academy focuses on 6 key soft skills for current and future success. IMar’s “Big 6” skills are creative problem solving, analytical thinking, leadership skills, communication skills, working collaboratively, and social & emotional intelligence. These six skills were chosen because recent job reports have indicated that these are the skills that employees want that are rare to find. According to Bloomberg’s 2016 job report and their Future Jobs Skills Report it states that these are the skills needed for 2020 and beyond. The 3 most important skills that will give you the biggest bang for your buck in the shortest amount of time are Creative Problem Solving, Analytical Thinking, and Leadership Skills.
Creative Problem Solving
Creative Problem Solving is finding new and innovative ways to solve problems. Creative Problem Solving walks hand in hand with critical thinking and should be taken very seriously if you want to move up the ladder in your business or organization. Your ability to think outside of the box and generate new ideas that can produce results is what employers notice. This can be as simple as finding a new strategy that gets customers through the drive-thru 30 seconds faster and helps improve customer satisfaction surveys by 2 points or something more complex like developing a new software program that 3D prints a tool that saves your company 1.5 million dollars per year. The industry you are in does not matter. If you develop this skill your employer will notice you and hopefully, you are the chosen one for that next big promotion. One of the most important ways to improve your creative problem-solving skills is to focus on asking the right questions. Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” This is more challenging than you might realize. Many of us tend to fall back on questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”, or questions that can be Googled, but true exploration, learning, and creativity starts with questions that invite discussion and debate which can lead you to the answer you need or will open doors for new opportunities.
Analytical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving are siblings in a way. Creative Problem Solving helps you to explore new ways to solve your problem but Analytical Thinking gives you a framework or system to follow and keeps your creativity moving in the right direction. If you are like me, you will need boundaries because once the creative juices get flowing we need something to reel us back in and bring us back to reality. Bowdoin.edu explains that “Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving work systematically and logically to resolve problems, identify causation and anticipate unexpected results.” One of the best ways to improve your analytical thinking is to read, read, and if you did not get it the first two times…READ! If you want to become a better thinker and overcome learning struggles pick up a book and read. I know you have heard this before but there is actually a missing step that a lot of parents and educators fail to instruct and teach child and adult learners to do. If you are going to spend time reading for pleasure or to gain knowledge, you must learn to become an expert at annotation. Readinghorizons.com defines annotating a text as, “the reader “marks up” sections of text, either with a highlighter or underlining, and makes notes in the margin in his/her own words, to ensure understanding.” I tell my students that they need to have a conversation with the author of the text through their annotations. If a question pops into your head while you are reading then you need write it in the margin, if you disagree with something then write down why you disagree. Most of my students dislike doing this but if they take the time to do this their comprehension of passages increase and their test scores improve.
Professor Klaus Schwab, the founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, when speaking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution said that “there has never been a time of greater promise, or greater peril.” During times of great peril, a leader is needed to guide his followers to the Promised Land like Moses, Dr. King, or Sir William Wallace (I love Braveheart!). Well, here is your chance future leaders, because employers are looking for leaders to help lead their team of engineers, computer programmers or Walgreen’s team of pharmacy technicians. The famous football coach Vince Lombardi once said that “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” I believe that developing your leadership skills is so important that I have made the Leadership section of my online training course FREE (What are the Attributes of a Leader?). Our world needs more leaders and I hope you choose to enroll in the full course. Even if you do not enroll, at least make sure you take the time to improve your leadership skills to help yourself, your family, and your organization.
Make a Move Today to Improve Your Soft Skills
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. The sooner you get moving on improving your soft skills the better off you will be. Anyone that works diligently at learning how to master their technical skills will need to also focus on improving their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Employers want the best of the best. Employers receive a vast amount of applications of college graduates that can do the job, but employers are looking for those game changers that have that extra something that they just cannot put their finger on. I am here today to tell you that the something they cannot put their finger on is called SOFT SKILLS and you can improve yours today.
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