We’re learning that the term social distancing may not be precisely right — physical distancing is more like it. Socially, we’re finding all sorts of ways of staying close. The same is true with the term soft skills. As this week’s #WorkTrends guest and workforce expert Angela Maiers noted, “You could call them power skills more than anything. These are the power competencies that allow you to succeed, your team to succeed, your company to succeed — in a crisis or not.”
An edupreneur, author, and founder of the global nonprofit Choose2Matter, Angela Maiers had a frank discussion with Meghan M. Biro on why these skills are so important. Angela talked about how these skills have to be developed habitually, but can and should be identified, supported, and refined. Key among them, she noted, is being self-aware — in the context of everyone you work with. “You have to understand how you not only fit in, but how you advance as a team,” and recognize “other people’s diverse competencies.”
People need the tools, development, and time to fully cultivate their life kit of essential “people” and human skills, she noted. But given the current time we’re all working in — where we’ve had to jump into remote competencies faster than you can type in a meeting ID, what if we don’t have the luxury of time? We may have to problem-solve to tackle very different challenges in the near future, Meghan pointed out — if the nature of the evolving crisis happening today is any indication.
We all need to be able to handle VUCA, Angela said — “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” That goes double for today and tomorrow’s leaders. “When you look at a leader that provides a place of not just security… but there’s a calmness around them, there’s hopefulness, there’s resourcefulness around them — those are the leaders that stand out.” Meghan noted that this particular mindset was likely going to be in high demand.
So can we learn this? Meghan asked. And do we all learn it the same way? “One of the points causing confusion is that we think of skills as masterable segments, but they’re far more than that,” Angela said. “Building a habit is different than mastering a skill. You don’t get a percentile grade.” And since everyone has different competencies, their learning curves are also different — likely more easily addressed by modern learning platforms that can meet the needs of each learner.
We all need to be channeling VUCA now, Meghan noted. And we need to remember that at the core, these “power skills” are really human skills. We’re going to need them all to adapt to the workplace of the future, she said. Life skills are the new power tools.
Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.
Twitter Chat Questions
Q1: Why are soft skills necessary skills in the workplace? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations better develop soft skills in their workforce? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations focus on essential soft skills for the future? #WorkTrends