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Why are human skills so important to business success now and in the future?

- March 2, 2021 3 MIN READ
soft skills

If you continue to think the way you’ve always thought, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got. – Kevin Trudeau

You know the drill by now. The most technically proficient humans tend to be the ones promoted, even though many organisations today talk of hiring for attitude and training for skill.

It seems that there has been no other way to recognise and reward employees than promoting the highest grossing sales representative as the next sales manager. What about the best professional sports player becoming the next manager or coach?

It’s time to value ‘human’ skills

This approach has remained in place for the past 100 years, even though significant change has occurred in many other aspects of organisational life. One has to think, it comes down to a combination of laziness and playing it safe over a new way of making courageous decisions that will set your business up for success.

So, what am I talking about here?

How about starting to hire from outside or promote employees from within the business who have demonstrated strong human skills (commonly known as soft skills – ugh!).

What would be the advantage of this over the current 100-year-old practice?

Here are five human skills that should be top of mind for businesses when hiring externally and promoting internally

Sitting with the Discomfort of Ambiguity

This includes the ability to change quickly, sit with not knowing the answers, holding multiple perspectives and holding your nerve. In this current environment, these skills are critical, which businesses need in a fast-paced, highly competitive and constantly changing landscape. More than ever, the ability to embrace your state of ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ is critical to current and future success.

Growth Mindset

Being open to new possibilities, new ways of doing things and new opportunities in new teams is now needed more than ever. Imagining what could be, versus, what can’t happen in a world of work that’s constantly changing will set companies up for success. Fixed ways, rigid processes and a technical mindset of “we’ve always done it that way” approach will result in extinction.

Street Smarts

he world is full of overeducated ‘intelligent idiots’ following the process they had drilled into them at University. Unfortunately, you don’t learn to be human from a textbook and at some point, ‘street smarts’ will be required. Humans who have overcome obstacles, been bumped and bruised and succeeded despite the roadblocks are critical, and can work across functions and share their knowledge and experience of how to keep going when others give up.


An understated but critical skill for now and the future is curiosity. The thirst for greater understanding combined with an ability to ask questions without trying to convince others of your ‘rightness’ allows for better relationship building. Those who replace confrontation with curiosity will be in high demand in the future workplace and will easily move across functional departments.

Develop a Coaching Culture

The answers are everywhere and successful businesses will encourage and help each other through embracing the power of peer coaching. It’s no longer acceptable that a few have all the answers or give all the directions. This must be shared to harness the power of human creativity. We need everyone to embrace coaching and creating highly connected and engaged teams.

 People with highly transferable skills may be specialists in certain areas, but they’re also incredible generalists – something businesses that want to grow need.  — Leah Busque

One other important consideration here is the fight to retain and attain the talent you need to be successful. Employees are demanding more of the employer today, and will jump quicker than ever before. If you are not providing opportunities for growth and career advancement because you’re caught in the 100-year-old model of promoting just the technically proficient, then be ready for the talent to be attracted to the competition.

It’s time to hire and promote for attitude and train for skill.

Can you make the change or will you lose out in the war for talent?

It’s your choice.

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Now read this

3 vital skills for the evolving future of work


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