LEADERS NEED TO continually polish their talents, and sometimes also their resume. We all recognize that organizations are changing, new challenges are surfacing and competition is increasing. What does that mean for those of us in the workplace? In January 2016 the World Economic Forum issued their Future of Jobs report to update their 2015 analysis. In 2020, they ranked the key skills as:
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Complex problem solving
Coordinating with others
Judgment and decision making
What I found interesting was that they added the skills of emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility and dropped quality circles and active listening from the list. There was also movement within the ranking. People management, coordinating with others, service orientation and negotiation fell, while critical thinking, creativity, judgment and decision making rose. In my view this reflects a shift to mental prowess, since half the list connects to thinking ability. Complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, judgment and decision making and cognitive flexibility center on mental practices. It raises the question of how a leader or coach can develop this level of thinking dexterity. It certainly cannot be by mandate or by adding it to a job description.
I have worked with leaders who wanted their staff to display strategic thinking or creativity. The request was clear but the mechanics were not. This missing piece might be due to the assumption that thinking and IQ are correlated, and the notion that intelligence is fixed. The TV show Scorpion weekly shows how Walter Obrien with an IQ of 197 cannot deal effectively with many situations.
Decision making tools identify how to analyze the data but they do not help to identify new realities, identify multiple alternatives or influence acceptance. Instead of seeing these activities as inherent, they also follow a checklist using questions from six frames of reference or mindset. Doctors, pilots and lawyers employ checklist to collect all the necessary information. Leaders can use them also to capture what is new, what is changing and what should be done to leverage opportunities. You can see a checklist summary HERE.