As many already know, the demand for physical and manual skills has been declining for the past 15 to 20 years. This steady decline will continue as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) continue to advance.[i] In fact, Deloitte research shows that more than 4 in 10 companies believe automation will have a major impact on jobs, and 61% of companies are now actively redesigning jobs around AI and robotics.[ii] With these advances, the demand for soft skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, and leadership will continue to be in high demand.[iii]
While machines and AI are capable of performing many more routine tasks, the need for human cognitive skills will continue to be sought after. As organizations continue to adapt, successful leaders know that developing employee soft skills is essential. According to recent findings from McKinsey & Company, “67% of new CEOs, looking back, wish they had moved faster to change the culture.”[iv] Because AI will bring continuous change, developing employee Soft Skills cannot be a one-time initiative. The most strategic organizations will be those that adopt a culture of lifelong learning and facilitate opportunities for employees to continuously develop new skills.[v]
The three Soft Skills that organizations should focus on are critical thinking, creativity, and leadership.
Critical Thinking – Critical Thinking is a soft skill that enables an employee to use objectivity, knowledge, facts, and data to effectively solve problems. As AI continues to help make the workplace more efficient, it isn’t quite enough without human touch. Critical Thinking allows the employee to use AI to make meaningful decisions. For example, a computer can model climate change, but it takes human beings to devise and enact policies to stem it.[vi]
Creativity – Creativity is one of the soft skills that help employees develop innovative solutions to problems. It requires openness to innovation and mental flexibility.[vii] In a future when AI efficiency and productivity are givens, the organizations that permit original ideas to flow freely will distinguish themselves. Nick Seneca Jankel says, “Breakthrough creativity is fundamentally organic, not algorithmic.”[viii] The need for uniquely creative employees will help to balance out the robotic functionality.
Leadership – Leadership skills are sometimes thought to be skills honed solely by a manager, but that’s not always the case. Leadership skills help provide any employee with the ability to take charge of a situation and ensure it is solved or brought to a successful conclusion. Pete McCabe, former VP at GE Transportation, once said “I can find engineers, I can find software guys, and I can find good data scientists. It is harder to find someone who can draw all the threads together to oversee the team of specialists. Knowing how they plug, knowing where to push. I’d give my left pinky for 10 more of those guys.”[ix] As AI is integrated within more organizations, the fundamental components of leadership must be refined across the company’s overall strategy, customer experiences, and human capital.[x]
To harness the new technologies to their full effect, organizations need to stay ahead of the curve and start developing those uniquely human soft skills. It’s notable that soft skills like Leadership, Creativity, and Critical Thinking are just the tip of the iceberg. There is no better time to start developing your workforce for the future.
For more on developing your employees Soft Skills, visit our Soft Skills page.
[i] Bughin, Jacques, et al. “Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Workforce.” McKinsey & Company, www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-organizations-and-work/skill-shift-automation-and-the-future-of-the-workforce.
[ii] Volini, Erica, et al. “Deloitte Study: 73 Percent Report C-Suite Isn’t Working Together | Deloitte | PR.” Deloitte United States, 16 May 2018, www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/press-releases/deloitte-study-report-c-suite-isnt-working-together.html.
[iii] Bughin, Jacques, et al. “Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Workforce.” McKinsey & Company, www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-organizations-and-work/skill-shift-automation-and-the-future-of-the-workforce.
[iv] Gallup, Inc. “The Biggest Mistakes New CEOs Make and How Not to Make Them.” Gallup.com, 25 June 2018, news.gallup.com/businessjournal/235847/biggest-mistakes-new-ceos-not.aspx?g_source=link_NEWSV9.
[v] Content, Partner. “The Impact of AI on Business Leadership and the Modern Workforce.” TechEmergence, 19 June 2018, www.techemergence.com/the-impact-of-ai-on-business-leadership-and-the-modern-workforce/.
[vi] CXO Magazine. “In an Age of Machines, Critical Thinking Gives People the Edge.” Medium, Augmenting Humanity, 1 Nov. 2017, medium.com/cxo-magazine/in-an-age-of-machines-critical-thinking-gives-people-the-edge-e2b80d0ff439.
[vii] Deutschland, Alumniportal. “Soft Skills: Do Creativity Techniques Increase Creativity?” www.alumniportal-Deutschland.org, 22 Aug. 2016, www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/jobs-careers/career-magazine/creativity-techniques/.
[viii] Jankel, Nick Seneca. “AI vs. Human Intelligence: Why Computers Will Never Create Disruptive Innovations.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 26 Apr. 2015, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/nick-seneca-jankel/ai-vs-human-intelligence-_b_6741814.htmll.
[ix] CXO Magazine. “In an Age of Machines, Critical Thinking Gives People the Edge.” Medium, Augmenting Humanity, 1 Nov. 2017, medium.com/cxo-magazine/in-an-age-of-machines-critical-thinking-gives-people-the-edge-e2b80d0ff439.
[x] Content, Partner. “The Impact of AI on Business Leadership and the Modern Workforce.” TechEmergence, 19 June 2018, www.techemergence.com/the-impact-of-ai-on-business-leadership-and-the-modern-workforce/