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Skill development

The skills your teams need to better perform

eye 146 Published on 30 Mar. 2022
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Over recent months, we have seen a drastic shift in our attitude towards work. We have had to face up to a new reality. Mastering new HR software and having to coordinate our teams working from home was one thing. But, knowing how to rally our teams together, adopting new practices, demonstrating strength of character in the face of previously encountered challenges, juggling restrictions, remaining confident about our decisions and holding onto hope for a better future was another thing entirely.

Soft skills are the skills we will need to bank on when carving out a place for ourselves, and understanding and embracing the transient nature of this new work environment. These skills are the new key to success and fulfilment.

This article focuses on eight soft skills which allow us to tap into our hidden strengths and reinvent ourselves, especially when it comes to crises. And while for some these skills will come naturally, for others, they can be developed through sustained practice and become solid drivers for success.

1. Self-motivation

Ability to find within yourself the drive to reach a goal, despite obstacles and without external encouragement.

Self-motivated individuals know why they are doing things; they take responsibility for their actions and are committed to their work. This is key to their self-empowerment, their ability to dedicate themselves fully to their missions and see them through, despite the obstacles encountered along the way.

Being self-motivated means being autonomous in encouraging yourself, as the prefix ‘self’ indicates – motivation comes from within. Therefore, self-motivated individuals do not require encouragement from their colleagues or managers. It is their enthusiasm, their willpower, and their intrinsic drive that enables them to take action, work towards their objectives and persevere.

If we lack self-motivation or constantly seek encouragement from others to make headway, then we limit our scope of action by undermining our own self-worth. Those who constantly seek external motivation may struggle to feel proud of their accomplishments, and compromise their sense of purpose.

Thus, we are at a greater risk of leaving our projects and tasks incomplete, because while we have no trouble setting objectives for ourselves, the first obstacle we encounter can throw us off completely.  More often than not, individuals are also prone to procrastination, putting things off until the deadline comes around, which acts as an external driver for their motivation.

2.  Self-confidence

A strong belief in your capabilities, choices, and opinions, even when faced with disagreement from others.

Self-confidence is the inner strength that makes you feel like you can achieve what you set out to. It is a feeling of assurance and solidity which helps individuals take on new challenges. Confident individuals tend to press ahead despite feelings of doubt and uncertainty. They don’t fear change, as they believe in their abilities to succeed.

Self-confident individuals are able to identify what works for them and what they are capable of doing. They believe in their abilities and trust their judgement to make good decisions, carry out projects, set challenging targets and evolve through difficult situations.

Individuals who lack self-confidence tend to doubt and question themselves. They underestimate their ability to succeed, shy away from difficulties, and are intimidated by unfamiliar situations. In times of crisis, this lack of confidence can lead to anxiety.

A lack of self-confidence leads to the fear of not being good enough, which can prevent us from taking on new projects. This means that we put our fate in the hands of others, lacking independence when making decisions, and allowing ourselves to be influenced by others.

3. Self-awareness

The ability to be aware of and understand your emotions, needs, and desires in order to determine what works best for you, even in new and emotionally demanding situations.

People who understand how they operate, who are aware of their strengths, values, and skills are equipped to harness the right resources to navigate through their everyday lives as well as unexpected and challenging situations. Conscious of what works for them, they are more inclined to make effective choices, determine the optimum conditions for their well-being and give it their all.

Self-awareness is also a springboard for skills development, since understanding your strengths and weaknesses also means being aware of your shortcomings and areas for improvement. This awareness of your future potential is vital in taking control of your life and becoming an active stakeholder in your own development.

Individuals who lack self-awareness may have difficulty giving their lives direction, and can let their emotions take over in demanding situations. Embarking on a personal journey of development becomes challenging when we are not aware of ourselves. Such individuals Thank are also at risk of making unwise decisions and being at the mercy of those around them, since they may struggle to lay the groundwork for positive reflection, i.e., by drawing upon their needs, abilities, and priorities.

Lack of meaning and challenge in personal growth can occur when an individual’s choices don’t align with their interests. This will in turn impact their performance as they may not be making the best use of their abilities.

4. Self-esteem

Ability to have realistic self-perception via an understanding of your strengths and limitations.

Self-esteem has a positive impact on how we perceive ourselves, and it paves the way for self-acceptance. It allows us to see our true selves, to focus on our strengths and readily accept our limitations, without being affected by external judgements. This allows us to be  more receptive to criticism as we can take it constructively.

Having self-esteem means being aware of your qualities and knowing how to utilise your talents, your unique way of being, thinking, and acting. More often than not, individuals with high self-esteem are likely to be positive and encourage those around them as well.

When individuals lack self-esteem, it can be difficult for them to accept words of admiration and recognition from others because they struggle to believe them. Such individuals also tend to talk negatively and dismissively about themselves. Individuals may also tend to choose actions that are contradictory to their goals and make wrong choices as they are often convinced that they don’t deserve to be happy. They will preempt any chance of being happy, impacting their own lives, and sometimes that of those around them.

5. Flexibility

Ability to adapt your thinking, behaviours, and emotions to accommodate new standards and situations.

Flexible individuals are aware of what’s going on around them and they are able to adapt their actions when faced with unfamiliar situations. They allow themselves to be in tune with their environment and are open to new ways of doing things. They are aware that everyone is different, and they constantly aim to adapt their behaviour to create a balanced environment.

Flexibility allows us to let go of our habits, and get out of our comfort zone in order to adapt to new situations. Flexible people tend to be agile and have a positive outlook on change, allowing them to be at ease even in unfamiliar situations.

When we lack flexibility, we may find it difficult to adapt our thinking, behaviour and emotions to new situations. We may tend to stick to what we already know and prefer stable and familiar environments. As a result, we may limit our scope of functioning, and it may be difficult for us to adapt and perform to our best ability irrespective of the situation. 
Within groups, a lack of flexibility can create friction and slow down the pace of projects. Such teams may exhibit resistance to change and may not receive external advice or opinions well.

6. Self-control

Ability to restrain impulses and regulate reactions while thinking clearly and maintaining adaptive behaviour.

In tough situations, self-control allows us to stay calm and prevents emotions such as anger and frustration from taking over and influencing our behaviour. Individuals with high self-control are able to step back, look at the situation objectively and constructively channel their emotions and react appropriately.

Healthy emotional management allows us to approach difficult situations in a composed manner by fully experiencing and accepting emotions, rather than avoiding or dismissing them. In stressful or unfamiliar situations, being emotionally mature means knowing how to put things into perspective and keep calm, so that you can react in a constructive manner.

We may sometimes have difficulty holding back our emotions and controlling our reactions. This can lead to reacting in an impulsive manner and we may regret the decisions taken at that point. In such circumstances, people around us might find it difficult to anticipate our behaviour.
When we lack self-control, it can also impact our performance. For example, when we are faced with an emergency situation, the emotional overload caused by the event can overwhelm us and cloud our judgement, thus, preventing us from thinking or acting appropriately.

7. Optimism

Tendency to think positively and believe that things will turn out favourably.

Optimistic people are generally happy and productive. Turned towards the future, they automatically adopt a positive attitude towards things, and approach their daily life with hope and enthusiasm.  They can always find a silver lining in a difficult situation and the right words to encourage those around them.

Optimistic people appreciate life and the things around them, and believe in an even better tomorrow. They know how to look on the bright side and so make the most out of any situation. They don’t shy away from new opportunities because if they do happen to fail, they’ll just see it as another learning experience.

People who find it difficult to be optimistic about things can tend to get discouraged more easily. Their outlook on life may be tainted by past failures and negative experiences, they may be pessimistic in their communication with those around them, and they may exhibit avoidant behaviours when dealing with stress.

Their inclination to see challenges as reasons not to try, rather than possibilities for growth means these people can easily feel discouraged. They may also have difficulty using their resources and strengths to propel them forward in life.

8. Resilience

Ability to quickly bounce back from hardship or failure.

Resilient people are just as prone to failure and setbacks as those who are less resilient. However, the difference is that they see these stumbling blocks as opportunities to surge ahead, armed with their ability to rethink their approach, take responsibility, and accept things as they are without taking them as a reflection of their own capability. The knowledge that they will do better next time allows them to recover quickly, and move on to the next thing. They look ahead to the future and can effectively work through their feelings, in order to overcome adversity.

They know how to let go of painful and trivial events, without letting past regrets get them down. If an event does stir up a certain emotion, they will embrace it. Once they have opened themselves up to explore this emotion, they will then close that door and keep moving forward, having gained another valuable experience to help them journey through life.

People who lack resilience take longer to process difficult events and recover from the after-effects. They also need more help from those around them when acknowledging shortcomings, finding the strength to let things go, and moving on. Those who are not resilient are more likely to ruminate, rehash past events, and dwell on problems rather than recover from them. They may also be prone to developing unhealthy or destructive coping strategies.

If left undeveloped, low resilience and a difficulty in recovering from challenges can manifest itself in physical, psychological and social effects.This may include trouble sleeping, tiredness, irritability, loss of memory and concentration, as well as an increased risk of chronic stress.

To discover concrete development paths at the individual and professional level, download our ebook for free.

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Helen Simard

Consultant Psychologist

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