The close of the decade brought with it many changes for the world of work. In 2019, there was a lot of talk about how artificial intelligence and automation will change the future of work. A McKinsey Institute study in Harvard Business Review predicted that the demand for advanced technological skills, such as coding and programming, will rise by 55% in 2030, and that more than one in three workers may also need to adapt their skills’ mix. But beyond technological skills alone, how can we best future-proof our careers?
The entire world of work has constantly changed and one thing is for sure: it will continue to evolve in the next decade. One of the best things you can do to future-proof your career is to get used to self-learning and to invest in your personal development. Education shouldn’t be confined to the classroom as today we can learn in bitesize nuggets all the time. Whether it’s listening to a podcast on the bus, watching a TED Talk, reading a blog from a favourite writer or signing up to an online course. The sooner you get into the habit of continuous learning, the better equipped you will be for the skills needed now and in the future.
The skill-sets people have today will change beyond recognition in the future. As no-one can yet predict how this will change, we should focus on lifelong learning. But teaching yourself valuable skills requires you to step outside of your comfort zone first. Once you focus on continual growth, you will be able to learn new skills and perspectives more easily. An added bonus is that you’ll learn about yourself, how you behave in uncomfortable situations and how you handle failure.
It may take a while before entire professions are replaced by robots, but one thing is clear: what makes you valuable at work goes beyond your diplomas, digital skills and expertise — it’s your emotional intelligence that counts. Soft skills such as empathy, the ability to work with others, and integrity, are becoming more important and, in fact, a 40-year study of PhDs at UC Berkeley found that emotional intelligence was 400% more powerful than IQ when predicting who would have success in their field.
Self awareness is key to developing emotional intelligence over time. To build self awareness, you have to understand how others see you, otherwise you’re working with a very narrow perspective which is just your own view. The most critical step in this process is to ask for feedback and to decide what to do with the feedback you receive. Once you’ve asked someone for feedback, how will you use that information to improve your performance and relationships? How will you take on board a new perspective? And what does it teach you about yourself? These are all questions to ask yourself in your journey towards self-awareness.
Last but not least, good leadership matters, especially with the unknown changes that await us in 2020 and beyond. In times of turbulence, we will look to leaders to guide people towards a better future. Good leaders are those who can listen deeply, be courageous and are packed with humility. If you’re starting a new leadership position this year, take steps towards becoming a good leader.
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