With the emergence of several disruptive technologies, economists are forecasting the coming of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The changes in the marketplace have caused enterprise leaders to shift from looking for executives with strong soft skills to those who have equally competent technological acumen. In effect, the learning tracks chosen by students will have a tremendous impact on their future marketability.
Traditionally, learners focus on their primary interests when pursing their education. As an example, a career hopeful that’s interested in becoming a data analyst is likely to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lessons, thinking of cultural and art classes purely as electives that will have little impact on their future. Conversely, a future human resources executive may adopt a similar attitude, focusing on behavioral sciences and cultural training while thinking of technology courses solely as requisite learning needed to advance.
This paradigm no longer works in modern corporate America. Contemporary executives must acquire a strong grasp of hard and soft skills. The following 5 examples highlight a few essential skills that aspiring executives should learn to master.
Skill 1: Leadership
Enterprises charge executives with leading employees in the tasks that advance organizational objectives. This is a mission critical responsibility that determines the success or failure of a firm. By highlighting leadership skills and emotional intelligence, recent graduates can earn the opportunity to manage organizational talent and delegate responsibilities. Once an executive hopeful successfully gains employment, their job has just begun. They must combine their leadership skills with the latest empirical data to make decisions that will result in positive outcomes for their organization.
Skill 2: Negotiation
The marketplace is growing more complex by the day, especially for health care organizations that are in the midst of trading paper for bits and bytes and pay-for-service with pay-for-performance. As the medical field undergoes a massive transformation, conflicts will emerge. In fact, negotiating skills will represent a strong suit for executives working in this field. As a result, the United States health care system and other industries require an influx of talented MBAs who can manage the interests of organizational stakeholders with speed, confidence and aptitude.
Skill 3: Communication
Modern executives must possess proficiency in spoken and written communication. Of equal importance is the ability to listen actively during negotiations. Today’s executives have replaced telephone calls with video conferences and snail mail with email. As younger generations enter the workforce, these current practices will give way to consumer technologies such as texting and video messaging. This natural evolution will result in increased communication and a parallel demand for heightened communication skills.
Skill 4: Networking
Despite the steady onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an executive’s network will always serve as a strong determinant as to their value for an organization. In fact, learners on their way to graduation should start building their networks well before advancing so that they can tap into the resource when it’s time to secure employment.
A recent study conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that nearly all employers favor MBA graduates. The connections made by MBA hopefuls improve their marketability and strengthen their position as employment candidates.
Online learners can also take advantage of the power of networking. Through social media, online discussions and alumni directories, online learners expand their business connections in the same fashion as their brick and motor peers.
Skill 5: Computer literacy
Over the last few decades, technology has changed business models and streamlined organizational performance
across nearly all industries and fields. A recent Microsoft study concluded that white-collar employees spend an average of 7 hours a day using computers. This reflects the change in the work environment that has resulted from the emergence of technology in the workplace as a tool for completing business tasks and communicating with clients and peers. The evolution brought forward by technology is so profound that firms have more resources available and have taken ownership of activities that were traditionally outsourced to third-party vendors.
In the United States, nearly every white-collar employee uses computers in the office. This applies across many fields, such as law, finance and medicine. Career hopefuls can ensure upward mobility in the careers of their choice by acquiring the skills desired by employers. Employers in every industry need fresh executive talent with a balanced portfolio of hard and soft skills, and for veteran employers and those who’ve just entered the workforce, it’s never too late to start on the continuous path to upgrading the skills needed to remain relevant in the career marketplace.