In some people’s minds “soft skills” are seen as “easy skills.” This is not true; it takes a lot of hard practice to master soft skills such as working collaboratively, facilitating team-based learning, engendering discussion, problem solving and managing conflict.
Far from “dumbing down” education, many 21st-century skills are also associated with deeper learning based on mastering skills such as analytic reasoning and complex problem solving. The focus is not on content for its own sake. The test is understanding why and demonstrating how, not regurgitating what. The most effective learning comes from a parallel process of knowing and doing.
Leaders at all levels may struggle with critical people issues and changes that confront them in today’s workplace. These include challenging issues like: unconscious bias, sexual harassment and diversity and inclusion.
Critical thinking is a key attribute underpinning everything. Thinking about thinking and understanding different modes of thinking is not, as it should be, literally top of the mind in learning at all levels. Critical thinking requires time and application that some would say it is not compatible with our 24/7 “always on” fragmented digital world. But many employers place problem solving at the top of their desired attributes list.
Talent is what we do well naturally. It is our bent. Talents are inborn, and can be discovered and developed. They cannot be taught, but supporting skills can. Skills are simply how to do something. They are learned and transferable.