The Future Of Work Will Demand These 8 New Skills

This post was originally published by Forbes, and was written by Tracy Brower.

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The future of work is upon us and while we’ve been entrenched at home, the world has changed significantly. Getting back to work won’t be getting back at all, it will be a new game. And success in the future will require new skills—some of which may come as a surprise.


A study by Monster found 82% of companies are planning to hire in the new year. This is good news for your career and the opportunities you’ll be able to pursue. But you’ll also need different skills and as the saying goes, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”


Here are the new skills you’ll need to learn, grow and sustain over time.


Ambiguity

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need the ability to deal with ambiguity—and more—to embrace it. Change happens with increasing velocity and this means uncertainty will become the norm. Consider driving your car. Expert driving coaches will tell you the primary condition that causes people to slow their speed is visibility—more than any other element. As things move faster, you have less time to pause, assess and analyze. You have a more limited view on what’s next because you just can’t be sure. At the same time, brain science has proven one of the things we desire most is certainty, and we avoid ambiguity. This will be the skill you’ll need to nurture: overcoming your natural instinct for clarity and assurance, getting comfortable with not knowing what’s ahead, making sound decisions and moving forward with confidence, even in the absence of complete information.


Curiosity

In the midst of ambiguity, an unquenchable curiosity will rule the day. The more you comprehend about a variety of topics, the more you can connect the dots. I like to say, “S/he who synthesizes first, wins.” Openness and desire to learn are good, but you’ll need a craving to learn, understand and know more about a wider variety of things. This skill won’t just be general curiosity about a narrow area of expertise, it will be a broad interest in a wide variety of topics, subjects and themes—and the ability to see patterns, trends and insights from all that knowledge.


Openness

Over the last decade, Americans have become increasingly divided on all types of topics. Data demonstrates we are less and less trusting of people with different opinions than our own. In addition, our increasing reliance on social media for our news and information creates an echo chamber. We sign up for bulletins and briefs which match the viewpoints we already hold, and algorithms work so well we rarely see information which doesn’t align with our current opinions. This is a problem because it shuts down the opportunity to hear different views, learn, stretch and grow. (If you’re wondering about this, watch The Social Dilemma.) The critical new skill set will involve seeking diverse opinions and learning from diverse experiences. The future will demand openness and the ability to engage in civil discourse and compromise. You won’t be able to progress in your career (or in life) if you stay stalwart (or stagnant) in your perspectives. The best success will come from the ability to listen, share and learn.


Entrepreneurship and Empathy

Another key skillset for the future will be entrepreneurship and the empathy it requires. Tuning into the shifting needs of the market and deeply understanding and empathizing with user needs are fuel for invention. The suite of skills involves thoroughly understanding circumstances and the challenges they generate, allowing you to see new opportunities. From there, it’s about taking appropriate risk and delivering new value to the market. These will be critical in paving your path to the future. You may apply it in a micro sense: solving problems at work or finding new ways to undertake a key project, or you may strike out and embark on new ventures.


Resilience

Closely related to entrepreneurship is resilience. Humans are nothing if not adaptable but embracing shifts and bouncing forward (rather than back) will require new competencies. The skill of resilience requires you to 1) stay aware of new information 2) make sense of it 3) reinvent, innovate and solve problems. Finding fresh approaches and flexing based on your insights will be fundamental to success.


Optimism and Imagination

Inherent to moving forward, is the ability to believe in a positive future and focus on possibilities. When experts find fault with a lack of responsiveness, it’s often the result of a lack of imagination. The skills of being able to envision and foresee what might happen are critical to staying motivated, inspired and driven to create new beginnings.


Rapport and Relationships

Success has always been about your network, but achievement in the future will depend even more on the strength of relationships. Your social capital and primary, secondary and tertiary relationships will be critical netting to offer you new learning, access to new opportunities and social support. The new skill will be the ability to build rapport—and to build it quickly and it from a distance. Because hallmarks of the future will include speed and ambiguity, we won’t have the luxury to create relationships slowly over multiple dinners or cocktail-napkin discussions. More likely, you’ll be building connections in brief moments and sometimes virtually. The skill of establishing trust, camaraderie and affinities with others will separate those who succeed from those who don’t.


Action

As the saying goes, “The future will not belong to the cynics who sit on the sidelines.” The skill of the future will require smart action—the ability to make things happen, marshal support, invest time and expend effort. As one of my colleagues says, “Run toward the fire.” Another especially appreciates people who “get sh*t done.” It’s true. We value those who jump into the ring and engage. In addition, when we see others working hard, it also inspires us to work hard (a scientific study proves this). So, this will be another skill of the future—join in, participate and get things done.


In Sum

Yesterday’s competencies are a starting point, but tomorrow’s success will require more and different skills. We all need to build talents we may not already possess. This is a good thing. It keeps us fresh and on our toes. It will also separate those who do well from those who achieve only mediocrity. A new day is coming—the future of work begins now—and we can embrace it.


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