The workplace and the world are becoming more competitive every day — for jobs, for customers, for attention.
Neither you nor your organization can be certain the skills and knowledge you possess today will be sufficient to compete tomorrow. So it’s essential to explore ways to better equip yourself with the skills increasingly are in demand. It also can be a lot of fun and is intrinsically valuable — even if you don’t end up directly leveraging your new know-how into a better job or a promotion.
Here are 3 skills that consistently rise to the top in experts’ must-have lists:
Yes, adaptability is a skill. It may come more naturally for some people, but it’s not a hard-wired character trait. It can be developed or strengthened. The first step is to be aware of it and its importance in today’s economy. A number of other soft skills — such as persistence, curiosity and collaboration — are part of being (or becoming more) adaptable. One reason employers want adaptable employees and leaders is the rapid rate of technology changes that can leave organizations using outdated methods of doing business vulnerable to being passed by. People who can learn quickly and adapt to new ways of doing things are highly valued.
Effective written and verbal communication is the foundation for building trust, strong relationships, buy-in and collaboration. It’s the basis for how other people perceive you and can either build or damage your credibility. Poor communicators struggle to get things done — much less advance or lead.
3. Cross-cultural competency
This is becoming more and more important not only in every business setting, but in every facet of life. People who understand what cross-cultural competency is and develop it are in high demand. So, what is it?
“Communicating with others having different backgrounds and perspectives” is the definition provided by Patricia Goodman, an assistant teaching professor at Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication.
There are hundreds of ethnicities and generational backgrounds in the U.S. Simply recognizing there are differences in the ways people communicate is the first step, Goodman said. “Something that is kind to you is not necessarily kind to another person. For example, in some areas of the world it’s rude to look someone eye to eye. In other places, it’s rude not to.”
Cultural intelligence, then, is similar to emotional intelligence. And people who develop it will have what Goodman described as an “intercultural edge” that will enable them to build more productive and trusting relationships.
Developing cross-cultural competency resembles learning most any other important skill. But if you’re looking for a shortcut, there isn’t one.
“There’s no one perfect path and no ‘five steps’ or something like that,” Goodman said. “It really is a mindset. Those generally successful in multiple exchanges on a cross-cultural perspective are curious, humble, resilient, they want to learn, they want to transform.”
And recognize you’re going to make missteps along the way, she added. “Be open to asking questions about how you can do it better. A little bit of humility and lot of integrity and curiosity goes a long way. Be humble, ask questions. You’re gathering information in an effort to improve.”