Early May and I barely stayed in Brazil. In less than four months (three, if you consider holidays, Carnival etc.), I went through Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and the United States on a road show due to a new regional position. It was an enriching experience. I have always worked in direct contact with professionals from other countries, but it was the first time that I felt that people’s careers are, in fact, changing – in a very challenging way.
It is in The Future of Jobs Report report, published last year by the World Economic Forum: it is essential that companies take an active role in supporting their talents, through requalification and qualifications improvement. And it is essential that professionals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning. The hard part is making it happen.
By 2022, no less than 54% of all professionals currently employed will need to reassess and renew their own skills, according to the World Bank. But here is the changing: this professional renewal does not necessarily come with new technical skills. It comes with learning those so-called soft skills. Among the most cited in the study are creativity, originality, initiative, critical thinking and persuasion. Is your team an expert in these skills?
Before my recent trips, I imagined that personal skills were professionals’ differentials. That were very welcome to help highlight the good among the best, but not essential for any professional. Big mistake. Soft skills are no longer “nice to have”, they are “must have”. If you don’t have it, go get it. If so, cultivate them.
How many accounts does your agency earn or fail to earn for reasons that are not technical? How many agencies does your company hire or stop hiring, too, for the same reasons?
The realization that soft skills are fundamental changes the way of hiring completely. Especially in the communication industry, where the big difference is people’s talent.
It also changes the way we should behave professionally. Your qualification can be the best possible: first class school, fluency in five languages, dozens of certifications; your diploma can be from Ivy League; your last course may have been the best of all in the world, whatever! If you don’t have the right attitude, your days are counted.
You have read some 300 times that a person in a command position should not be a boss, but a leader. And for that, you need to inspire the team, show a future vision, a solid strategic path and build empathy. Well, today almost everyone in an organization must act as if they are in command positions – even if they do not have formal positions for that. Simply because modern professionals are required to be able to ask, build together, think about the collective, respect freedoms and think about the needs of others. Regardless of your hierarchical level.
Jobs have changed, functions have changed, and expectations have changed. Anyone who thinks that the essential condition to perform well depends on a well-defined job description, with a fixed schedule of errands and hours, a list of predictable tasks and a pat on the back as a reward for the effort… well, you should rethink your career. And its relationship with time, because we are talking about conditions that worked in the 1990s.
Anyone who only thinks about itself and believes the company is always indebted for more opportunities and automatic recognition, due to the history of services rendered and glories of the past, is myopic, blind and deaf. Career is personal, not outsourced. There is no handing over the management of your professional life to the company where you work.
Whoever thinks of itself first, wanting to earn credit alone for his work, and whoever imposes his point of view on others, without discussion, is simply out. It cannot resist the medium term. Worse: those who do not listen to those around them will eventually find themselves surrounded by people who have nothing to say. It’s a lose-lose. The constant win happens when we realize where the is the weakness of our interlocutor when we put ourselves in his shoes. We understand its problem and are willing to solve it together. For that, having technical qualification is basic, but what really counts are attitudes.
If you are a professional who thinks about your academic and study background, and you think you need to have continuous learning to work in today’s world, you are on the right path. But that part is only half of what you need to get there. As important as studying the technical part, it is developing skills such as attention to detail, resilience, flexibility, emotional intelligence, autonomy and social influence. “Courses” that are not learned in the academy, but in the school of life. Let’s live, with wide open eyes.