Unleash Your Leadership

#26: The Hardcore Soft Skills You Need to Succeed in the Modern Workplace

September 13, 2023 Priyanka Shinde Season 1 Episode 26
Unleash Your Leadership
#26: The Hardcore Soft Skills You Need to Succeed in the Modern Workplace
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to another exciting episode of Unleash Your Leadership. On this episode, we will be diving deep into the world of essential soft skills and why they're absolutely crucial for success in the modern workplace.

I recently had the privilege of speaking at a Women Tech Conference where I gave a talk in this topic which will be valuable for everyone navigating today's rapidly changing work landscape. So, whether you're an emerging leader, a tech enthusiast, or simply someone looking to enhance their career, you're in the right place.

Discover why skills like communication, assertiveness, advocacy, courage, and adaptability are anything but "soft." These skills are your secret weapons for success, not just for women but all professionals . Join me as I share actionable steps to master these skills and learn how to leverage them to propel your career and create your version of success.

Blog Post
Youtube video

Want to unleash your leadership?
Work with me

Follow Me

Buy me a coffee

On this episode of unleashed leadership. I want to share with you a talk. I gave at a women tech conference a few weeks ago.  I truly believe that this topic is important for everybody in today's modern workplace. So much has changed in the past few years. So I hope you enjoy this talk. I would love to hear back from you. Here's presenting the hardcore soft skills you need to succeed in the modern workplace

  Hello and welcome.  This topic is very close to my heart. So let's just jump right in and talk about the hardcore soft skills you need to succeed in the modern workplace.

So first, a little bit about me. I'm a career and leadership coach for emerging and ambitious leaders in tech, women, people of color, and immigrants. I help leaders overcome challenges, accelerate on goals, and achieve breakthroughs to create a fulfilling work life that is in harmony with their values. My coaching philosophy is centered on helping folks leverage their strengths and amplify their voice to create lasting impact that gets them to their vision.

I'm also a tech leader with 20 plus years of experience delivering strategic business outcomes across diverse domains. And leading teams in product, program, and engineering to launch cutting edge products. I specialize in helping organizations optimize for product, process, and people strategies while developing a culture of connection, authenticity, and empathy.

I'm very passionate about building communities, which is why I founded the Women in Technical Program Management Group on LinkedIn. I want us all to lift each other up and create multiple seats at the table.

But here's the thing. Who you see today is someone who has evolved over the years. I was this introverted and timid girl who did well academically, winning awards and acing all exams. I was taught to lower my gaze and speak softly. Coming from a patriarchal merit based system, I thought this is how it is everywhere.

As long as I work hard and get my work done, my actions will speak for me. Throughout the first half of my career, I did exactly that. Heads down, do the tasks, get more work done. And it worked for a little bit, until it didn't. When I started working at a big company for the very first time, I It hit me hard that my technical skills and execution chops are not enough.

No one was going to speak up for me. In fact, not everyone even knew what I was doing, and it was up to me to advocate for myself. Ask, question, challenge, share, demonstrate. These soft skills and people skills were developed over the years.

So what are soft skills? Soft skills are basically the people skills that help us get along with others at work and in our personal lives. They're all about things like being a good communicator, understanding how others feel, being able to challenge and adapt to new situations, and more. These skills are often intangible, difficult to measure, and generally vary from person to person.

In fact, there is nothing soft about these soft skills. So how about we reframe them? How about human skills? Emotion skills? Interpersonal skills? Essential skills? How about critical skills?

Soft skills are essential in today's workplace. That is why you are here. Teamwork, collaboration, effective communication are all critical for success. Today's modern workplace has become increasingly complex and interconnected. We have so many apps, ways of communicating, consuming information. Our products are getting more complex.

And we require multiple teams to launch. That this means that individuals need to be able to navigate complex systems and processes, collaborate across departments and functions, and work effectively in a fast paced and dynamic environment. Problem solving, teamwork, and leadership skills are essential for success in this kind of an environment.

Secondly, the modern workplace is more diverse and globalized than ever before. Post COVID, remote work is ubiquitous. This means that individuals need to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively with colleagues and clients from different backgrounds and cultures. Empathy, adaptability, cultural intelligence are essential for building strong relationships and working effectively with diverse teams.

According to the latest World Economic Forum's report, jobs and work are going through a major transformation right now, with millions of roles potentially being eliminated or created in the coming year. This relates to a wide range of reasons, from technological advancement to climate change. But one thing is clear, and certain, many workers will have to adapt.

Having the skills to navigate this change, and maybe even new job opportunities, is therefore crucial. In this report, WEF lays out which skills are key right now, and which are becoming vital in the coming years. Majority of the skills listed are soft skills and people skills. Analytical and creative thinking skills take the top spots for what companies are looking for and expecting from workers right now.

Self efficacy skills including being resilient, flexible, and agile, being motivated and self aware, and curious and committed to lifelong learning round out the top five.

Soft skills are especially important for women in tech because women face more difficulties in the workplace than their male counterparts. Firstly, women in tech are often underrepresented in the industry and face barriers to career advancement and leadership positions. Here's some data for you. Women hold just 28 percent of all jobs in computer and math occupations and 15.

9 percent in engineering and architecture. According to a BCG study, gender diversity in tech leadership fell from 86 percent in 2020 to just 59 percent in 2021. Another study reported that 57 percent of women in tech feel burned out at work compared to 36 percent of men. And 1 in 5 women in tech are thinking of leaving their jobs.

Women in tech face these additional unique challenges in the workplace, such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, and gender stereotypes. And women are often heavily influenced by cultural and traditional values that may not necessarily serve them in today's modern workplace. Soft skills can help women overcome these barriers, navigate challenges, and effectively balance their cultural upbringing with their career aspirations.

They can provide a foundation for building relationships, communicating effectively with colleagues and clients, and thriving in a rapidly changing and dynamic work environment.

Mastering these skills means you can accelerate and reach your goals faster. You can adapt quickly to technological advancement and prolong your career. You can thrive by leveraging your skills in different domains and industries, creating a more fulfilling career for yourself. You can define and achieve success on your own terms.

So let's get into the hardcore essential skills that I think are the most important to develop and master today. Keep in mind that these are just a subset of the many soft skills that you will hear about or already know about. The focus for today is on key actionable steps that you can take to hone these skills.

First up, communication. Communication is all about meeting your audience where they are. It is important to land your message in a way that feels important to you while ensuring that your audience is not left with more questions. How you communicate and come across is important for self awareness.

Women often tend to have a lower voice. Or we tend to use words like sorry, just, like more often, which makes us appear unsure and weak. Focus on your voice modulation and tone to speak with conviction and without apologies. Avoid trailing off or ending sentences with a question mark. Develop a habit of writing regularly at work or even outside.

It is a great way to develop these skills and packaging your thoughts with clarity. It is also can be a good opportunity to use writing when you don't get a chance to speak up on certain occasions.

So write at least once a week. It can be anything, a blog, a post, a journal. Get into that habit.

Assertiveness. What is assertiveness? Assertion is the balance between being passive versus aggressive. You standing up for yourself, your ideas and beliefs is a must, and it all starts with taking care of yourself. Women often overlook themselves to take care of others. If you can prioritize your own needs, then only can you convince others to buy into your ideas.

Being assertive also means you have to learn to say no without guilt, or learn to ask more questions instead of saying yes impulsively. Make direct eye contact when you say no or are trying to make a point. When you look the person in the eye, they can see your conviction and what is important to you.

They're more likely to resonate and find a way to create a win win.

So set aside 15 minutes a day to do something for yourself.

Let's talk about advocacy. Research suggests that women are most persuasive when they advocate on the behalf of others, but back off faster when advocating for themselves. When we can do it for others, why not ourselves? Start by identifying your values. What is important to you, for you to have to create a fulfilling work life?

What makes you mad? What makes you sad? If you can articulate your values clearly, You are more likely to ensure that they are not stepped upon. Become vocal about your accomplishments. Remember, taking pride in your work doesn't mean you're bragging. And finally, take advantage of the research that I just mentioned.

Find someone who can advocate for you so that they can be your voice when you're not in the room. Find sponsors at work and connect with them regularly. Sponsors are different from coaches and mentors. And you can learn more about the differences on my website.

So in this next week, I want you to find a sponsor and then start meeting with them at least once a month.

This is a favorite image of mine. It really exudes courage.

I have had many conversations with women about how they did not take important actions because they did not feel confident. But let me tell you a secret. Confidence is overrated. You don't need to be confident to succeed. You just need the courage to take the leap. There have been multiple occasions in my career where I felt like I was the only one feeling lost, unworthy, incapable.

I never asked for help and tried to do it all alone because I wanted to project myself as strong. One day I talked to a peer and realized the fantasy. Oh, my God. Knowing that I was not alone had such a profound impact on my confidence. Women often hold back from asking for help or sharing how they feel.

Being vulnerable takes courage and strength. And only when we share do we learn that we are not alone. Don't wait for the perfect moment. Do it over and over again so that you can develop that muscle faster.

Let's do this. I want you to take a moment here. This is going to take just about 30 seconds to a minute. Okay, just find a comfortable spot and close your eyes and do this visualization exercise with me. So close your eyes and think back to the time when you felt most powerful.

Who were you in that moment? The feeling of power is flowing through you right now as you think of that memory. What were you feeling at that time?

What's the image that's coming up for you?

It can be anything. A human animal, something abstract. Observe that and let it feel in your body.

Now, I want you to give that combination of feeling and image a name

that's your inner leader.

Access this powerful inner leader whenever you are seeking courage to do something important. Please feel free to open your eyes now and take some time later today to do this again, to solidify the image of this inner leader, that little girl in front of the wall street bull. She's my inner leader. And I would love to hear from you on what came up for you.

So put it in the chat or message me after.

Finally, I want to talk about adaptability. Women often tend to take setbacks more personally and judge themselves more harshly. It is understandable. Dealing with failure is daunting. Sometimes one can get stuck navigating difficult circumstances, which prevent us from adapting quickly. In today's world, pivoting is a strength because it showcases your ability to be flexible and adapt faster.

It is important to process the situation, your negative feelings, and then shift into a positive perspective that can propel you forward. Tap into the power of positive thinking. Write down your strengths and accomplishments. Note how you overcame them and leverage these past positive memories to make your future powerful.

Don't be afraid of failure and become best buddies with discomfort. Download the Success Action Plan from my website to help you create positive results for you and those you care about.

And if there is one thing you take away from today, it is speak up. In every conversation, meetings, one on ones, all hands, every opportunity you get, if you are often the quiet one and in the background, Lean in and speak up. Ask a question. Make an observation. Volunteer to do something. Raise your hand.

Share an idea. Break the ice. People may not remember what you said, but they will remember you.

With that, thank you so much for having me. If you have further questions, please feel free to get in touch with me. My information is on here.