12 Professional Skills to Excel in the Modern Workforce

Business in the 21st century is increasingly complex and dynamic, shaped by advancements in technology, evolving business models, and the demands of digitally savvy consumers. Professionals across all industries and experience levels must continually sharpen their skills and develop new ones to keep up with changes in the workplace. Career-driven professionals should consider going back to school to advance their knowledge and develop the following 12 hard and soft skills to lead effectively, understand emerging technologies, and excel in a truly global workplace.

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How specific skills can help individuals excel in modern business.

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Key Skills for Individuals in Leadership Roles

Leaders run organizations of all sizes that employ people of diverse backgrounds to effectively lead teams and organizations, leaders must possess negotiation, communication, change management, and innovation skills.

Skill 1: Negotiation

Those with strong negotiation skills can understand, define, and resolve conflicts between individuals and teams in an even-handed way that builds trust with colleagues. This skill is necessary for resolving conflict with customers or employees, retaining customers, reducing employee turnover, and protecting reputation.

Skill 2: Communication

Brilliant ideas are not very useful if professionals don’t know how to effectively communicate them. Indeed, having well-developed communication skills can make individuals capable of understanding colleagues’ wants and needs and help them find solutions that benefit different parties. Failures in communication can lead to several negative issues, including reduced productivity, and low morale.

Skill 3: Change Management

Change management competency allows leaders to make difficult decisions during stressful periods of organizational change. It can also help them know how to anticipate and address future conflicts that may arise in an organization. To excel in change management, leaders must establish a clear vision, demonstrate empathy and transparency, and prepare for resistance.

Skill 4: Innovation

Leaders with strong innovation skills have a willingness to embrace creativity and new ways of achieving success, which can greatly influence the speed and efficiency of daily workplace activities. Innovation requires a willingness to change and a desire to raise the bar for performance expectations.

Professional Skills for Working with Technology

Professionals across all roles and industries work with technology in unique and specific ways. To excel in the workplace, professionals must understand data and analytics, cloud computing, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and social media.

Skill 5: Data and Analytics

Individuals with advanced data ana analytics skills can read and interpret data that can reveal key insights about a business or organization’s performance. They can also optimize advanced analytics tools, concepts, and technologies to benefit business. This skill can help predict future behavior and assist businesses in adapting to upcoming shifts and changes.

Skill 6: Cloud Computing

Cloud computing-proficient people understand the growing importance and reliance on cloud computing and know how to use the cloud and the benefits of specific cloud computing platforms. It’s an increasingly important skill to possess; LinkedIn’s “Top Skills” list for 2019 listed cloud computing as a top professional “hard skill.”.

Skill 7: An Understanding of AR/VR

Those with AR/VR competency can evaluate scenarios where augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tech is beneficial. They can also understand the key components behind successful AR and VR campaigns. Because of its growing usage, professionals should prepare for an increase of AR/VR applications across numerous areas in the workplace and across all industries.

Skill 8: Social Media

It’s important for professional to understand how to use social media platforms to enhance their own brand and generate company awareness even if it’s not part of their daily tasks. To excel in social media, pros need to have solid presentation skills, commit to a long-term plan, and accept feedback.

Excelling on a Global Scale

Professionals who decide to adopt a global focus can enhance their careers and benefit their organizations in a host of ways. To adopt a global mindset, professionals must demonstrate forward thinking, global awareness, cultural sensitivity, and language acumen.

Skill 9: Forward Thinking

Those with advanced forward-thinking skills can understand new global business trends and the impact of emerging tech, including how to capitalize on them to build immediate and long-term success. This skill is necessary to ensure businesses adapt to the needs of current customers and future generations and adopt a change-ready mindset.

Skill 10: Global Awareness

Global awareness skills enable people to know about key and developing news and political events around the world. This can then allow them to identify areas of opportunities and potential conflict with international partners, organizations, and governments. A globally aware professional uses 21st century skills to understand and address global problems, can collaborate with a diverse range of individuals, and can understand the perspectives of other nations and cultures.

Skill 11: Cultural Sensitivity

Professionals proficient in cultural sensitivity are cognizant of certain cultural practices and customs, and they know how to engage with members of different international communities. Exposure to many cultures will help learn how people think across cultures and develop and open mind.

Skill 12: Languages

Being able to reach and converse in different languages can increase professional effectiveness and build meaningful relationships with individuals of diverse backgrounds. This skill is encouraged globally, as 60 to 75% of people around the globe speak at least two languages.


As the business landscape continues to change, professionals can be certain of one thing: continually developing professional skills is a critical requirement for career advancement and long-term success.

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