Monday, July 16, 2007

Skills for the Road Ahead

In businessThink: Rules for Getting It Right--Now, and No Matter What, the authors write about the skills you need for the future.

Skills You Need for the Future
The authors write:

When Accenture recently interviewed 500 executives around the world and asked "What workforce skills are in most demand and will be the most needed over the next two to five years?" this is how they answered:

  • Business Skills: 68 percent
  • Technical Skills: 42 percent
  • Flexibility and adaptability: 33 percent
  • Self-motivation: 18 percent
  • Leadership: 6 percent
  • Functional: 3 percent

  • Self-Motivated Leader or Flexible, Adaptable Businessperson
    The authors write:

    So the question is, would you like to become a functional, self-motivated leader, or a flexible, adaptable businessperson with great technical skills. People who can independently think on their feet, work cross-functionally, learn new skills quickly, and work to make great business decisions that are customer focused (for both internal and external customers) will be indespensible to their companies and in high market demand. By the way, executives not only said they expect to need these skills shortly, they also expect these skills to be very difficult to come by (good demand news for you in the supply and demand of labor economics -- if you live by the rules).

    Key Take Aways

    • Leadership ranks lower than technical skills. The surprise for me is how low the leadership ranks. I guess you only need so many leaders in comparison to the overall workforce. On the other hand, if you consider influence in its many forms, an aspect of leadership, then I think leadership belongs much higher. Influence is a way to get results more effiiciently and effectively. Put it another way, if you can't influence, you'll have a tough time getting the support you need to get things done.
    • Business skills and technical skills go hand in hand. I'm not surprised that business skills and technical skills are a priority and they go hand in hand. One without the other can be ineffective. If you have business skills, but you don't use today's tools or understand the changing landscapes, you won't be as effective as those that do. Similarly, if you have technical skills, but you can't turn them into business value, you won't be as useful as someone who can.
    • Flexibility and adaptability are key. I'm glad to see flexibility and adaptability explicitly called out. I'm a fan of continuous improvement. I think a big part of today's success is adapting to changes, and finding ways to make the most of new opportunities.

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