Most important soft skills in 2021

Most important soft skills in 2021

5-10 years ago, if people were asked what skills were the most important for their job, they probably would have answered with a list of so-called “hard skills” such as: computer technology skills, project management, data analysis, design, mobile and web-development, etc. Now, especially considering COVID and its impacts, the answer to that question has likely changed. More and more people acknowledge the importance of “soft skills” - the interpersonal attributes you need to succeed in the workplace. There is no more question “Why do I need soft skills?” Professionals are more interested in these questions now: “What soft skills are the most important for my career growth?” and “How to evaluate and develop soft skills?”. In this post we will try to analyze what soft skills are the most important for 2021 after a year of COVID based on our experience and skills which have been selected most often for 360-degree feedback surveys conducted with Wystra.

In early 2020, LinkedIn posted a list of the most in-demand hard and soft skills in 2020. They listed 5 top soft skills which are still very important in 2021:

  • Creativity
  • Persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional intelligence

In addition to the LinkedIn list, we want to add next soft skills which are in demand in 2021:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Leadership skills
  • Responsibility
  • Communication
  • Self-development

Let’s take a look at each skill individually.

1. Creativity

Creativity is probably the most-demanded soft skill in Today's Job Market. It’s a broad ability, including other soft and hard skills. Creativity is often a reason why one company succeeds, while others do not. Creativity helps to create new products, find unconventional ways to solve challenges, improve people collaboration, and it makes this skill very important in the business world.

2. Persuasion

Persuasion is an act or process of presenting arguments to move, motivate, or change your audience. The most obvious example of persuasion is sales, but persuasion is not limited to sales only. Managers with strong persuasion skills can influence others to do their job well and succeed, entrepreneurs convince investors that their business is the one to back, product managers present their ideas as great opportunities, illustrate the benefits of their proposals, marketers use persuasion to sell products and increase brand awareness.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration is the process of two or more people, entities or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. It’s impossible to imagine that modern complex products could be created by individuals in an isolated environment. As the complexity of products increases, product development becomes more distributed over multiple departments, or even over several companies, involving many specialists. That’s where collaboration skills are essential. Among collaboration traits, we can highlight the next several ones: exchanging relevant and helpful information with colleagues, coordinating work with the work of other team members, providing assistance and support to help other team members complete tasks, helping the team stay positive when working toward a common goal.

4. Adaptability

Adaptability was a demanded skill before COVID-19, and now this skill has become even more significant. Employees who adapt to changes quickly, such as suddenly working from home, and stay goal-oriented in new situations, are crucial. The role of adaptability in the modern workplace can’t be overestimated. This soft skill will be even more important as businesses have to adapt their processes to cope with new challenges.

5. Emotional intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence was a newcomer in the LinkedIn’s list of the most in-demand soft skills of 2020. The term “Emotional Intelligence” was coined by two American Psychologists, John Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990. You can grasp the main idea of EQ by this quote explaining the term: “The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions.”. Emotional Intelligence was popularized by Daniel Goleman, who introduced a model of EQ in his 1995 book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ consisting of 5 components: self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, social skills. As with collaboration skills, EQ skills help employees meet challenges in the workplace more effectively, improve professional relationships.

6. Strategic thinking

One of the most important skill for leaders is strategic thinking. Basically, it’s an ability to plan for the future. Along with leadership skills, strategic thinking has been selected in almost all 360-degree reviews for managers organized with Wystra. Employees with strong strategic thinking skills develop a comprehensive business strategy efficiently and forecast the consequences of specific decisions, taking into account trends and connections that aren’t immediately obvious.

7. Leadership skills

Leadership skills is a broad concept. Last few years there has been the emphasis that companies need strong leaders, not just supervisors. As Frank Kitchen said: “The world needs more leaders and fewer managers!”. Leadership skills are useful not only for managers, but for all employees, and such skills can be applied in any situation where you’re required (or want) to take the lead socially or professionally. Effective leaders in the workplace take responsibility for the team’s successes and failures, motivate co-workers to achieve results through personal example, and provide regular employee feedback, noting their accomplishments and correcting errors.

8. Responsibility

Responsibility isn’t the most noticeable skill and people rarely put it on their resumes, but it is crucial in the workplace. Since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, responsibility skills have been often included in 360-degree feedback surveys as working from home brings new challenges and demands a lot of self-discipline. Responsible employees meet deadlines for tasks and projects, without prompts and reminders, and act in accordance with prior agreements, fulfills obligations. They take personal responsibility for achieving results.

9. Communication

The ability to communicate well with managers, colleagues, and clients is essential no matter what are you work in. These days, a lot of communication is happening remotely, what led to the significant importance of the written communication in addition to other communication skills. Without good written communication skills, employees can’t share ideas efficiently, have difficulties with understanding the tasks. Strong communication skills mean that you can establish positive rapport, convey your thoughts clearly and precisely, listen to people carefully, and adapt your communication style to different people.

10. Self-development

Self-development is not only a skill, it’s a habit, a way of life. We don’t need to explain here why self-development skills are vital, these skills help you to acquire new skills to achieve success in your work. You demonstrate a high level of self-development if you apply new skills and knowledge at work, take an interest in and seek feedback about your work, learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them.

Before starting developing your soft skills, you might want to analyze the current state of your soft skills. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are difficult to measure - that’s where feedback from your colleagues would be handy. With Wystra you can easily organize 360-degree feedback surveys for yourself, your team, or for your entire company. Wystra’s built-in library of skills and the user-friendly interface will help you to not spend much time on managing your 360-degree feedback surveys and focus on results and feedback.