The job market is competitive and requires people with the right set of skills to succeed. Technical skills and experience are unfortunately not always enough due to the evolving nature of the workplace.
So, what skills for success do you need to thrive in today’s competitive work environment? You need transferable skills, which are capabilities that can be developed and are applicable in every profession. They are essential skills that form the foundation of your professional success and happen to be the most desirable skills that employees seek in job candidates.
What are Skills For Success?
Skills for success are skills that help you perform your best not only in your education or career but also in your life. It takes practice and commitment to learn the strategies that will help you become successful in life. Yet, it’s entirely possible to hone these skills and utilize them for career progression.
Some examples of skills for success include; time management, communication, critical thinking, active listening, and organization.
Skills are categorized into two different types: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are teachable; for instance, you could be good in mathematics, meaning that you’re skilled at maths. Hard skills can easily be measured and compared. For instance, we have software engineers, data analytics, copywriters, and social media managers in the digital field.
On the other hand, soft skills are intangible. For instance, you could be an excellent communicator or a problem-solver.
What Are The Most Important Skills For Success?
Soft skills have become increasingly more important within the workplace in recent years. The way we treat others, how we carry ourselves in formal and informal situations are all soft skills. Statistics show that 97% of employees regard soft skills as more important than hard skills. In addition, 46% of employees fail within 18 months with 89% out of the 46% failing because they lacked the necessary capabilities to keep them professional and help them get along with others.
Often as we grow professionally, we transition from the role of being a regular employee to becoming a leader. Therefore, as you keep working on your hard skills, it is just as important to work on your soft skills, as they are integral for successful business relationships.
Below we outline the 10 essential skills for success that are important to master.
10 Essential Skills for Success
1. Communication Skills
Communication is essential for success in the workplace. This skill includes listening, writing, and speaking. Employers want to see if you can articulate your ideas coherently and effectively. With listening skills, you’ll be able to understand other people’s emotions, build strong relationships, and resolve conflict.
A good communicator should possess:
If you want to be clear in your communication, then it is important to be an active listener. When we are so focused on expressing ourselves, more often than not, we aren’t paying attention to what our colleagues are bringing to the table. An effective communicator leverages a variety of listening styles. They pay attention to what others say and ensure that others feel heard and considered.
A great communicator should be able to understand the feelings of those around them. Empathy means understanding and relating to someone else’s feelings. When you have a high emotional intelligence plus empathy you can easily interact and build a rapport with other people.
Working well in a team and consistently collaborating with co-workers is an essential part of any job. The more strong relationships and rapport you build with others in the workplace, the more effectively you will be able to communicate with them.
Nonverbal Communication skills
Aside from verbal cues, effective communication also depends on non-verbal cues. Therefore, it is important to develop an awareness of your body language and tone of voice to enhance your messaging and presentation skills.
2. Problem-Solving Skills
The sad truth is that life is full of challenges and the workplace is no exception to this rule. Problem-solving skills help you figure out why an issue is occurring and how to solve it. Problem-solving capabilities allow you to solve issues quickly and effectively when they appear.
One way that you can work on your problem-solving skills, is by familiarizing yourself with some of the common issues within your field and learning from more experienced professionals.
3. Have Patience with Others
As the ancient saying goes, ‘patience is a virtue’. This skill is especially useful in tense or uncomfortable work situations or environments. When stressful situations occur in the workplace, the degree to which you demonstrate patience with your colleagues and superiors could ultimately determine how far you progress within your career.
What does impatience say about a person? Impatient people always want things done their way and get frustrated with situations that take a different turn to what they expected. They pressure others to get things done and may become frustrated with delays.
Conversely, patient employees can slow down, assess things, and are able to conduct their work without becoming anxious or easily irritated. This type of employee listens carefully and prefers to wait for all the information or resources they need before they begin a project.
4. Body Language and Non-Verbal Communication Skills
Our body language speaks louder than our words. One of the most essential soft skills by professionals is body language and nonverbal communication skills. The way you cross your legs, nod or lean in during a conversation sends a message to the parties that you’re conversing with.
Crossing your arms during a discussion may demonstrate that you disagree or are uncomfortable with the conversation. Nonverbal cues like clothes, gestures and objects (i.e., tattoos, piercings, branded outfits, etc.) influence how others perceive you and your communication style.
Body language can sometimes be complicated because of the different meanings and cultures around the world. While the majority of best practices are universal, there are local differences that should be considered. For example, the Portuguese tug their ear lobes to indicate tasty food. But in Italy, this gesture has sexual connotations. Likewise, the American wave, which indicates saying ‘goodbye’ or ‘hello’ to someone, is interpreted as a “no” in many parts of Europe and Latin America.
There are vast cultural differences in body language. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the different meanings that body language has in different countries and cultures to avoid making mistakes.
5. Conflict-Resolution skills
Conflicts within organizations are unfortunately common. However, the way you handle and respond to them impacts your personal, as well as organizational success. Listening carefully, delicately expressing your opinion, and thinking logically will help you effectively resolve conflicts. This skill is one of the key managerial skills that every organization looks for.
When situations are not resolved properly, it leads to workplace incidents, employee dissatisfaction and sometimes resignations. Whereas, on the other hand, successful conflict resolution improves job satisfaction and helps relieve stress from within the workplace.
6. Self-Awareness Skills
Many talented people struggle with career advancement simply because they lack self-confidence. Such people may fail at job interviews and remain unnoticed at work because they are unable to truly express themselves. They are often afraid of being judged and fail to pursue growth.
The consequences of having a lack of self-esteem in a career cannot be overstated. Shy managers can struggle with imposter syndrome, self-doubt and the feeling that they don’t deserve praise for a job well done. Overconfident managers on the other hand may fall victim to the Dunning-Krueger effect-a cognitive bias resulting from extreme levels of confidence well beyond the accomplishments actually achieved by the individual.
Improving your self-awareness skills helps you build your self-confidence and achieve a level of balance when it comes to how you see yourself. But what exactly is self-awareness? It’s so much more than collecting information about ourselves. It includes paying attention to our inner state with an open heart and a mind that’s willing to learn.
This skill requires you to look inwardly and monitor your thought-process in certain situations, so that you’ll be prepared to face a similar challenge. Other professionals frame self-awareness as the ability to look at your words and actions from a perspective outside of yourself, so that you have the ability to see yourself as others see you.
You develop a strong sense of worth when you are self-aware.
7. Time Management Skills
Poor time management results in a poor level of productivity. When you have a habit of procrastinating, you will struggle to complete your work on time and this in turn affects your performance. On the bright-side, there are productivity frameworks and tools that you can use to improve this skill. They include:
- Getting Things Done (GTD) framework: Developed by a productivity expert known as David Allen, this framework requires you to list all the professional and personal plans that you have and prioritize them in order of complexity.
- Kanban System: This framework requires you to visualize your workload and create a Kanban board to manage your workload.
- Auto-focusing: This is a free-spirited approach to time management that requires you to stick to three lists as a maximum at any time. A to-do list, a watch-list, and a later-list.
- Iceberg method: Similar to the GTD framework, this approach requires you to get things out of your head and organize them in an efficient way to get them done.
There are many more frameworks that you can look into to find one that works for you. When you improve your time management skills, you’ll be able to:
- Excel at completing more work
- Teach others how to improve their own productivity
- Optimize your activities from the most important to the least important.
8. Creative Thinking Skills
Creative thinking skills involve the ability to come up with innovative ideas that help solve an issue. Many business issues require a creative mind to help them achieve growth. To improve your creative thinking, allow yourself to relax, and discuss your ideas freely. Sharpening this skill requires a focused effort that requires you to make creative thinking a habit.
There are several strategies that can help you improve your creative thinking skills. Some of these strategies include:
- Mind maps
- Asking a lot of questions
- Exploring different creativity theories
You can begin by writing down five ideas daily in a notebook. Allocate time for thinking and allow your mind to think creatively and create solutions. You should also reward curiosity. Some people have the flawed belief that creativity is an indulgence, which isn’t true. It is important to reward yourself when you are curious about something.
9. Customer Service Skills
Most successful businesses are customer-centric. They focus on giving customers a positive experience and are prompt to get feedback from their clients. In order to be successful within your career, it is important to improve your customer service skills. This entails having knowledge of your products or services, using positive language, learning to empathize with others plus so much more.
This ability is critical for success, as it will help you to effectively manage conflict and prevent issues from escalating.
There are strategies that you can use to improve customer service. You can:
- Seek customer feedback
- Work on developing better communication skills
- Gain thorough understanding of your businesses product, services, and pricing plans
- Practice empathy and patience
Commit to learning about your customers and leverage the feedback you get from them to improve your services.
10. Leadership Skills
Leadership is one of the essential skills for success. It is all about motivating people to realize their full potential. It usually consists of creating a positive work culture, motivating people, and exhibiting trustworthiness and credibility.
The good news is that you can develop this skill by taking initiative within the workplace. Volunteer to take on more responsibilities that are above and beyond your current position. Also, always seek to step out of your zone and challenge yourself to improve.
Related skills that we’ve covered such as proper listening skills, critical and creative thinking are also essential in a leader. Constantly learning and growing is also important because the world is continually changing.
You can become a great leader by studying other influential and successful leaders. Pay attention to their qualities, mannerisms, how they treat people and the way they communicate. Although you shouldn’t copy that leader, incorporating some of their positive traits into your own skillset can help you grow as a leader.
Learners can also hone this skill by taking up leadership opportunities in academic or local institutions. You can take an active role in a club or local organization. By getting involved in opportunities outside of the workplace, you get to experience challenges that will fuel your growth as a leader.
Yet, it is important to remember that developing this skill also requires you to work on your communication abilities. This is because leadership involves speaking up about causes you care about and taking action to find effective and lasting solutions.
The Bottom Line
The skills for success discussed in this article play an integral role in your career advancement. These skills make you more approachable and prepare you for new challenges. They will help you forge connections, network easily and gain respect in your profession. Developing these skills for success will also make you an integral contributor towards making the workplace a better place.
Students at university also have the opportunity to develop these skills earlier in life. The courses that they will take build their hard skills. However, students should also have a growth mindset and be motivated to learn more soft skills that will boost their personal development and provide them with success in their desired profession.
Make it your personal goal to seek opportunities that will help you further develop these skills for success.