Five skills you should develop in 2021

In Summary

• The ability to maintain productivity levels while steering a business in a different direction is a must-have.

• While this skill is valued across levels in a company, it is critical for business owners and managers to actively take responsibility for offering direction.

The ability to maintain productivity levels while steering a business in a different direction is a must-have.
The ability to maintain productivity levels while steering a business in a different direction is a must-have.
Image: SHUTTERSTOCK

If 2020 has proved anything, it’s that the only constant thing in this life is change. The year has been one full of constant learning and change on an individual, country and  global level. While we were thrown into various tumultuous situations, there have been silver linings including the growth in  interest in learning new skills available in abundance online. Here are skills that will help you thrive in your career or business and manage challenges that 2021 may have in store - and we will suggest a great mix of online courses, podcasts, books and further reading for each.

1.  Change Management

Change management is the controlled management of changes within an organisation. The ability to maintain productivity levels while steering a business in a different direction is a must-have. While this skill is valued across levels in a company, it is critical for business owners and managers to actively take responsibility for offering direction. Peter Drucker, a renowned business management consultant, observes: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” With the widespread digital switch underway in many organisations, change management will be one of the most sought-after skills in the year.

2.  Resilience

Everyone has had to adapt to the new normal one way or another. We have had to move out of our comfort zones, in business,career and at home, to survive the challenges of last year. Our Rebuild Program has supported over 3,000 women-owned businesses survive the pandemic and thrive. This year, look for ways to increase your adaptability by proactively responding to situations and take advantage of opportunities in your community to help you face any new challenges that may arise.

3.  Emotional Intelligence & Influence

Emotional intelligence may sound like a personality trait but in fact is a skill that you can develop. The effects of the pandemic are still being felt and compassion is needed when dealing with employees, clients, and other stakeholders. Emotional intelligence will improve your relationships and get the most out of these interactions in the long run.

The ability to not only have a great sense of people’s emotions and knowing what to do or say when, could be leveraged to influence people’s actions both positively and negatively. You want to know how to use emotional intelligence to influence people positively.  If you love podcasts, you might want to check out The Overwhelmed Brain to strengthen your emotional intelligence and live authentically.

4.  Data Driven Mindset

As more businesses make data-driven decisions, the ability to analyze data in a way that shows trends patterns and insights will be a sought-after skill. You will need to overcome any fears of numbers or analytical thinking, brush up your proficiency with the relevant tools being used in your organization and note how your manager reacts to you as you use data more and more to make decisions. “A data-driven mindset is key for everyone in an organisation today no matter how small or large. It is also something I see lacking in many small companies or viewed as the job of  “the data person” for larger companies. I encourage women in particular to commit today to start from wherever they are to develop this mindset. Gathering a group of friends as accountability partners to support each other in safe space is a great way to start”  Isis Nyong’o, WomenWork Co-founder.

5.  Continuous Learning

The commitment to lifelong learning is a highly attractive skill to employers. Continuous learning and exploration is the foundation of progress in any business and is a highly-sought-after skill. If you shared insights with your manager from the book you’re reading on “How to Measure Anything” by Douglas Hubbard, you’ll be in the minority of employees who take such an initiative and will reflect your commitment to improving the business. Take advantage of learning opportunities widely available online, in your networks and professional communities like the WomenWork Network. We have numerous opportunities for learning in different industries and levels. Join us  to get access to these opportunities.