Soft Skills are the future

For people who want to make an impact in business and in life, two skillsets stand out above all others:

  • Your ability to work in teams and show leadership
  • Your ability to learn, adapt and grow

Why? There are two reasons: first, because we’re in a global knowledge economy, where value is created by people working in teams. Even expert “top guns” need high-order communication skills or their ideas won’t get taken up.

And second, because we are in a world of accelerating change: complex, volatile and uncertain. To thrive we need to enhance our ability to learn, grow and adapt quickly.

These “soft” skills lie at the heart of both the biggest problems and the best opportunities facing you and the enterprises you work for. Employers actively recruit for these abilities: they know that technical ability matters but soft skills matter more. Futurists and AI experts say they will be needed far into the future. Unlike technical skills with a short shelf-life, soft skills never go out of date. You take them from role to role as you build your career.

 

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Soft skills are deep skills

Soft skills are deep skills. They are about your attitude, your mindset, and your disposition.

And that’s where the problem lies.

In business, people are still trying to develop soft skills in the same way they learn technical skills: as information and insight, taught through workshops, books, videos, apps and MOOCs. It’s the same way that we learn in school, in college and in most corporate training.

While this type of learning is important for a lot of things, it’s rarely effective for rapidly building a high performing leader and team member.

Soft skills are acquired and developed through experience. Period. A coach or mentor can help, but actual experience is what counts. You don’t learn to ride a bike by watching a video; you learn to ride a bike by riding a bike! Ideally you start with training wheels, and then you fall off, consider what to do differently, and try again. Same for soft skills: you learn to lead and adapt by leading and adapting.

 

Our research

Phillip Crockford and his team started to notice this more than two decades ago when they were coaching managers and executive teams.  Forty years of experience in the human potential field, working with such diverse groups as Olympic skiers, special needs children and teachers, the US Army Organizational Effective Command, engineers, physicians, psychologists, complementary medicine practitioners and bodyworkers, as well as many, many business teams, have given us the know-how to deeply explore how adults develop these critical capabilities.

Inspired by the work of thought leaders and scholars in a wide range of disciplines, including brain and behavioural science, biology, philosophy, education and management*, we set up a virtual learning laboratory.  Our team of researchers discovered that developing essential socio-emotional skills requires three things:

  • Experiential learning: regular, recurrent practice, with others, in action
  • A psychologically safe learning environment,  where people can take risks and learn from failure as well as success
  • Reflective practice: purposefully thinking about what we did and how we can do it better

Our researchers have also identified some key factors that accelerate the process:

  • Expert coaching that engages our thinking, our moods and emotions, and our bodies
  • Learning with a diverse group of peers who can share our learning experience and reflect with us, and give insightful feedback
  • Formative assessment: monitoring progress and delivering insightful feedback that enhances and supports our learning process, making it more rewarding and relevant
  • Transfer of learning: a plan and an accountable commitment to experiment and put the learning into action in the real world.

The result is V-Teamwork, a uniquely effective program conducted in the immersive environment of a live-action multi-user online game: a psychologically safe environment for learning in action.

 

What happens in the program

You work with a global teams of high performers for about two hours each week: succeeding (and failing) with projects in an immersive virtual world, giving each other great feedback, receiving expert coaching. Then you transfer your learning to practice in the real world and produce results every day for the next six days.

The powerful rhythm of weekly practice, reflection, and practical application means that people who do our program are thrilled with the results in three areas:

  • Flourishing work relationships. They report that they resolve issues and build trust with previously ‘difficult’ people and are more successful in building trust with their teams and stakeholders
  • Increased productivity and innovation. Meetings go faster and accomplish more. They report being able to improve business processes and do things faster.
  • The power to manage and drive change. They can elicit the trust and the positive learning attitude needed for themselves and their teammates to adapt rapidly to ongoing waves of corporate change.

Want more details? Read more of our graduates stories here.  **Link to case study/testimonial pages.

 

Community of practice

We have been surprised and thrilled by the depth of connection that many of  our participants make with one another. Something about learning intensively and experientially fosters great mutual respect and can forge strong bonds with people who have never met in person: across geographies, generations, cultures and professional disciplines. Some great ongoing collaborations have resulted and we aim to foster the growth of a community of leadership practice in the Teaming Dojo.

We are constantly improving our offer and have seen it applied successfully in software development, major engineering projects and clinical care settings. We have a vision to develop this revolutionary approach so that people can  flourish in an increasingly complex world of accelerating change. We want people in the global knowledge economy to not just to survive and get by in their work, but to thrive.

 

Next:  read the FAQ.

References

*Prof. Humberto Maturana, Dr. Fernando Flores, Dr. Sylvan Tomkins, Daniel Goleman, Prof. Amy Edmondson, Gloria Flores, Robert Dunham.

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