Soft Skills in The Age of Technology Revolution

“As risks have evolved, so too has the need for soft skills, with a risk-focused mindset for flexibility, agility, and speed, to drive our transformation efforts.” – Roberto Rovere, Chief Audit Officer of BPER Banca

Digital and AI technology is transforming every aspect of our day-to-day life. While this disruption at all levels is inevitable, this also brings attention to new skills and adaptability that the new generation of workforce will need to strive for. Post the Covid Pandemic, there is renewed focus on how we look at work in general and the application of new-age technologies to work smarter, and faster and provide differentiated outcomes.

In our lifetime and across generations we are now seeing a shift in the need to have more technology, social, and emotional skills and the decline of physical and manual skills. This paradigm shift is reshaping how we look at jobs, roles, and different ways to achieve outcomes. Today machines have become smarter and while it brings numerous benefits in terms of productivity, efficiency, and new perspectives, it also means it will change skills required by the human workforce. While technology skills, advanced and basic will see a surge and continue to grow there is a need for higher cognitive, interpersonal, self-leadership, and digital skills.

In this article, we will delve into what are the various aspects of each of these softer skills. Below Table highlights the key soft skill attributes needed:

Cognitive Interpersonal Self-leadership Digital Literacy
Critical Thinking Empathy Self-awareness and Management Digital Fluency
Effective Communication Sociability Goal Oriented Security and Data Privacy
Flexibility Effective Teamwork Driving Change and Innovation Smart Systems and its Application
Agility Collaboration Coping with Uncertainty Digital Collaboration
Adaptability Awareness Persistent  
  Building Networks Energetic  

Cognitive – While technology is exciting, if there is no cognitive skill ability in its application and governance of its usage we will not be able to realize its full potential. As can be seen in the table above, one needs to be curious, question the status quo, and make decisions with reasoning and insights. As Leaders and Managers who have a role to influence and direct teams, this skill is key to drive outcomes. While having a cognitive skill is important, how can we acquire this is also relevant. Some of the aspects of being cognitive don’t come overnight but rather something that we need to invest into via incorporating good habits in our day-to-day tasks (i.e. habits that include reading about technology and impact, being aware of the business landscape, understanding outcomes and results that need to be achieved and practice habits that over time environment in day to day work).

Interpersonal – In a highly matrix operating environment, the power of network and the collaborative approach to achieve outcomes is a skill not to be underestimated. Often developing these relationships takes time and should be done via empathy, humility, and gaining trust. Looking at winwin negotiations when there are similar outcomes to achieve across programs, and resolving conflicts in a balanced and neutral way are some of the ways through which interpersonal relationships can help in achieving outcomes.

Self Leadership – While Leaders are tasked with driving and achieving complex outcomes, it’s very important to be self-aware of one’s leadership and management style before one sets out to drive others. Being a person of integrity and understanding own weaknesses and strengths is essential to achieving results. Organizations today are challenged to adapt themselves to the changing landscape very quickly and often need to change directions on the fly. It’s obvious that such situations can cause angst and uncertainty and impact how decisions need to be taken. But the best approach to manage this is to take it toll gate by tollgate and move in the changing direction. Having an approach of being optimistic, and passionate often helps to look at everything with an open-minded view.

Digital Literacy – Having a Digital mindset has to do with how we interpret data and look at devices and the underlying technology. Today there are a plethora of tools to achieve different outcomes. Without understanding the foundational structure of these tools, how to operate them, and what data they consume and deliver it will be difficult to drive results. The other aspect of data-related work is to make sure that we have the knowledge or the know-how to ask the right questions to make informed decisions. To ask the right questions, we need to have a sense of statistical reasoning. Adapting to a new digital medium is often difficult since we don’t understand its usage and implications but if we avoid this totally, then we run the risk of being unaware, not fluent, and not able to use smart systems to apply and get results.

Since the pandemic, soft skills are no longer optional and need to go in tandem with technology skills. They are essential to get hired and succeed in today’s workplace. By keeping them relevant, you’ll be able to stand out, remain competitive, and future-proof your career.

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