The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the very pillars of humanity and businesses. The world of our work has been disrupted from working in the office premises to working at home, from face to face meetings to virtual meetings, from the office chit chat to more focused communication and the list goes on. Conventional approaches are getting moulded and new skills are needed. The current times are challenging everyone’s emotional and social operating systems as well as their functioning.
As new job opportunities begin to emerge, it is imperative to develop and practice the must-have new skills. Here, a good educational institution would discern and determine the changing requirements of businesses and impart necessary skills along with formal education. So future leaders must be wise enough to select institutions that can help them develop 21st century skills.
Let's look at five key essentials not just to become an apposite candidate for a job but a future global leader:
Resilience: When the COVID-19 scare started to spread, over 157 crore students across 191 countries were severely impacted by the closure of schools and educational institutions. All the stakeholders in the education sector- government, education institutions, teachers, students and parents together showed great resilience and the online learning paved its way to almost every household in one way or the other. Institutions’ management adopted the digitisation of education, teachers too got training to teach and engage with students, parents supported as the guide and provided their ward with necessary infrastructure and students quickly adopted it to continue learning online. The Indian government also took many great steps from promoting digital education to offering free courses, providing classes on TV and recently announcing New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which would change the face of education in future.
This unruffled ability to do what needs to be done in any given situation, no matter how challenging or unexpected the situation is, helps to lead and grow. Like the education sector, leaders across different sectors are putting their focus to adopt newer ways and bounce back in these difficult times.
In these changing times, businesses would look for employees who are flexible and quick to adapt even under stressful conditions. Build this skill up as change becomes the new normal. To enhance your personal resilience:
- Stay positive
- Take time out for self- reflection
- Identify your emotions that are the most positive and useful
- Recognize what you can and cannot influence
- Set your personal goals
- Most importantly, stay open to learning and growth
Communication with impact and emotional intelligence: Your ability to communicate and build relationships with others has become one of the most essential skills. We all crave for a genuine human connection and understanding in any job role.
Working in a virtual world, attending digital meetings with limited facetime would demand not just impromptu words but to prepare well in advance. Clarity of thoughts and messages to be passed on in these meetings would require both words as well as empathy for others’ emotions. As people work from remote locations, clarity in email or virtual meetings help build trust and retain high productivity levels. Empathise and start from reminding yourself that you have no idea what other people are going through this will make you a more generous and calmer leader. Make sure that colleagues and people around you feel valued and included in the organisation.
Humility has come to the forefront for many leaders during the lockdown period. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a reflective view on the handling of the pandemic and he hopes to humanise capitalism. “In these times of COVID-19, corona warriors have lived the mantra of 'Seva Parmo Dharma' and served the people of India,” he remarked in a recent speech.
Critical Thinking: It is one skill that is a must-have in your skillsets. The process of thinking critically allows deep thinking, understanding and addressing the situation based on the facts and information available. Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined method of conceptualising, analysing, synthesizing and evaluating the information gathered. Pandemic or no pandemic, critical thinkers are vital to the success of any business.
To attain this prized attribute of leadership, think critically:
- Question all the assumptions behind every proposition
- Be open to adopting different perspectives
- See potential opportunities
- Managing ambiguity in an environment where change is constant and swift decisions are required
Creativity and innovation: Creativity is not just limited to typically artistic professions, it could also mean being able to adjoin the dots with seemingly distinct information or finding creative ways to steer a business through challenges and opportunities that come its way.
Though there isn’t any predefined process to think creatively, one can follow a few steps to sharpen the creative skills:
- Work on your curiosity levels to go deep into the subject/ matter
- Express your thoughts more frequently
- Let your thoughts meander, observe and imagine for inspiration
From new product development, new technologies, fresh approaches or finding imaginative yet viable solutions to market challenges, new ways of working in a team and many other roles necessitate creativity.
Innovation and creativity have always been in demand, and now more so than ever, as the future of work begins to look very different from what it did just a few months ago.
Digital Literacy: According to Forbes, the current medical emergency has led to the fastest digital transformation of companies in history. From workforces shifting to remote working, telehealth consultations, online grocery shopping, digital skills are at the forefront of everything advancing from here. The unprecedented times have accelerated the need for digital skill sets to help businesses become more aligned with today’s myriad technologies and virtual platforms. 82 per cent of the job profiles now require digital skills of some kind. With this new industrial revolution on the horizon, the understanding of technology and its usage is essential.
The novel coronavirus crisis has fundamentally disrupted life, learning and business as usual for everyone, however, it has been the driver for many individuals and businesses to step up from their previous roles. The pandemic has presented the opportunity to reassess the qualities and adapt newer skills in the new world of work. So let's make this pandemic an opportunity to do something extraordinary!