The New Wave of Business Disruption (and the Soft Skills You Need to Succeed)

The New Wave of Business Disruption (and the Soft Skills You Need to Succeed)

This past weekend saw ex-tropical Cyclone Oma hammering down on beaches across Queensland’s south coast. As Brisbane’s first cyclone in decades, tension was high as even experts struggled to predict the impact the weather event would have on SEQ’s millions of residents.


Image source: ABC, RAMSDIS

Over the weekend, surfers flocked to the beaches to ride out an incredible swell that culminated in an unrelenting cycle of wave after wave.


Image source: ABC, AAP Dave Hunt

Once the weather system had finally moved on, the faces of our many of our most iconic beaches looked completely different, having been whipped by waves and their foundations eroded away.


Image source: ABC, Tom Forbes

In a lot of ways, this cyclone is a perfect metaphor for our business landscape:

Experts struggled to predict its path; it produced unrelenting waves that completely changed the environment around them; and most of all, it came and went so quickly that many of us barely even registered its presence before it moved on.

The reality is that we are living in the VUCA world.

Volatile because things can change so quickly. Uncertain due to the difficulty to predict the future. Complex as our environment is now filled with multi-faceted options and scenarios. Ambiguous because of the difficulty in drawing clear conclusions.

Whilst the term VUCA refers to the world we live in right now, it also refers to the environment that we have always lived in. Alvin Toffler, one of the world’s most well-known futurists said:

?Change is avalanching upon our heads and most people are grotesquely unprepared to cope with it?.

That was all the way back in his 1970 book, Future Shock.

Each year we think we have seen it all, yet the waves of change just keep on coming.

In our Learning & Development workshops, we have had deep conversations with executive leadership around how best to develop and cultivate the soft skills that are critical as the business environment keeps evolving.  

These skills have influence over our every conversation, business transaction and relationship ? so it is important to commit to constantly nurture and improve them. By developing greater self-awareness, leaders are able to identify those skills that they are pre-disposed towards and those that need further development. Research shows that highly developed soft skills contribute to more effective leadership in management and better outcomes for professionals and their teams. Another study found that almost half of the establishments who reported a skills gap identified that it was soft skills their teams were lacking. 

Which soft skills are needed to surf from wave to wave?

Creating a change-capable workforce where agility and soft skills are highly valued is the first step to preparing your team for 2020 and beyond.

But before you begin implementing programs, and allocating time and budget ? how do you identify these soft skills? We think that a good place to start is to refer to the High Potential model by Gartner-CEB.

Image source: CEB-Gartner

After analysis of more than tens of thousands of employees across organisations across the globe, 10 key competencies were identified that set high performers apart from their co-workers.

1.      Ability to prioritise

2.      Working well in teams

3.      Organisational awareness

4.      Effective problem solving

5.      Self-awareness

6.      Proactivity

7.      Ability to influence

8.      Effective decision making

9.      Learning agility

10.  Technical savvy

Organisations benefit greatly by getting employees to understand personal mastery in the workplace ? helping them to understand their personal impact and how they can effectively influence change.

This builds greater capability, confidence and competence. This is not an exact science unfortunately, and that is the often the rub, so sometimes we need to just start. It is the VUCA world after all.

As experts in Learning & Development, we would love to partner further with your business and share with you our successes around rolling out workshops that address soft skill development, change management and leadership competency.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me on (07) 3333 1511 or at


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