Boss Lady

Future proofing your business to thrive and survive for 2020 and beyond


I ran a masterclass this year on Future Proofing Your Career for a large organisation. It was a wonderful experience and highlighted, as a boss lady myself, the importance of knowing how to future proof your business and upgrade your skill set, as we race towards 2020 and beyond.  The most vital thing is how we keep up with the technologically imposed professional shifts and human skills, needed for a successful and long working life.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, employed or just starting out, technology is impacting on all our professions, some in momentous ways others in small but significant ways. However, there is a way you can start right now to get ready for the changes ahead.

According to the World Forum 2016  Report on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (that’s technology if you didn’t know  already), we can foresee what it is we need moving past 2020.

Three skills you must master. One you’ll need.

In the table below are the three most desired skills that were wanted by employers four years ago in 2015 and then the projected skills needed to have career longevity in 2020. Just a reminder that at the time of writing this article, that’s only 12 months away. Not long to upgrade and upskill your Human Skills if you are currently employed. Even less time to develop screening tools to find these skills in your future employees. Now is the time to be thinking on how you can obtain these attributes and incorporate them into your business model.

As you can see in the table below, Complex Problem solving remains at number one for skills wanted in the workplace for the future. The shift starts after this. And it is dramatic.  We have moved from valuing Coordinating with Others to wanting people who can demonstrate Critical Thinking Skills. Creativity arrives as the number three most desired attribute for a long future in the workplaces of 2020, jumping dramatically up from 10th place in 2015. Creativity bumped People Management down to 4th place.  And don’t forget Emotional Intelligence, a skill that appears from nowhere in 2015 to the 6th most desirable attribute we need for the future.

Rating 2015  2020
1. Complex problem solving Complex problem solving
2. Coordinating with others 

(drops to 5 in 2020)

Critical thinking

 (up from 4th in 2015)

3. People management

(drops to 4th in 2020)


(Up from 10th in 2015)

6 Quality Control

(disappears of the list in 2020)

Emotional Intelligence

 (not rated in 2015)

What are these skills?

These human skills are not so easily determined by recruitment profiling assessments. They often appear in personality types that previously we may have ignored or devalued, preferring in the past for ruling out the outliers and ruling in mainstream thinkers. Time to find out what future you and your employees need for success.

Complex problem solving.

These are issues that require us to approach finding a solution from many different angles and perspectives, in order to create as many possible outcomes and resolutions as possible.  In the future this will rely on our teams being non-homogenous in personality, intelligence, culture and gender. The more different we are, the more success we may have in approaching problems from wide and varying perspectives.

Critical thinking skills.

These human skills are defined by our ability to implement disciplined thinking when tackling a problem of some complexity. This skill requires a level of analytical ability, logical reasoning and information gathering ability, a curiosity mindset and being able to identify biases. It also means you need the ability to transform the knowledge you have gathered into an effective solution to the problem. Think open minded and eager to engage.


Let’s shift this definition away from a business model which is focused on creating a product that is novel or new and look it as a human skill. Okay, not all of us have creative brains that can come up with the next big thing, but we at least need to find our creativity to grow and encourage ideas from others. Being creative is mental risk taking. Intelligence used for the discovery of something original. We are talking about self-development that will be part of the future workplace.  Promoting new ideas about authenticity and self-belief. Creating opportunities to explore, reflect, be courageous and curious with how we think and what we think. In an interpersonal sense, it is about finding better solutions to how you manage your existing problems. Trying a different approach and being innovative when dealing with others. This translates into how we can articulate our needs to produce a new result in working relationships, with our customers and in our lives. The goal of creativity is to solve an existing issue with a new approach, idea, skill or to introduce a different way of being in the situation.

Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence as the last skill that is speeding up the ladder of desired attributes beyond 2020, will be redefined as the under 21-year-olds move into the workplaces.  Research coming from around the globe is showing some scary data on the next generation of employees and the Impact on social media on human skills. This cohort will be entering the workforce under-skilled in many of the desired attributes, particularly in emotional intelligence (resilience, communication, organic creativity and emotional agility). Additionally, they may have significant weaknesses in reading verbal and nonverbal language (including emotional facial recognition and tone of voice) and heightened social anxiety.

What should I do?

  1. Invest in upgrading your skills. Invest in your self-development. Even if you think you have your human skills down packed, think again. We all need to grow, change and develop.
  2. Lead as the boss. If you haven’t nailed your future skills, how do you know what to look for and how to select people around you that can be the future of your business.
  3. Open up your hiring processes to seek the outliers and individuals who can bring a new perspective to your workplace.
  4. Avoid hiring the same personality type in your team and in doing this devote time and resources to training for communication and connectivity to reduce conflict (especially if you are hiring young adults).
  5. Value human skills as the balance to technological skills. You will need both to be successful.
  6. Encourage creativity in your team, create spaces and a culture that embraces ideas and rewards innovative thinkers.
  7. Be brave, courageous, empathic and a leader in your approach to others and their contribution.

My prediction beyond 2020? Altruistic Attitudes and Emotional Intelligence will continue to rise as desired attributes linked to success, as technology replaces job tasks, social media decreases human skills and the benefits of altruism in workplace cultures takes root. Time to put the human back into human interactions and let technology do the rest.

About Sarah Godfrey

Sarah is the director and owner of Moving Mindsets and Life Works When. She has been a qualified psychologist for nearly two decades, a personal coach, author, blogger and speaker on human skills and social commentator on life, happiness and success. She is the author of Life Works When-A Story on piecing together happiness for a successful life and has a new book on Supercharging your Self Development for release in 2019. Sarah’s articles appear on her website (My blogs), in online magazines and newspapers. She has been interviewed and quoted for articles, appeared on radio, in podcasts and T.V. She works with clients in business, with entrepreneurs, people in the entertainment and sporting worlds and wonderful individuals wanting to be their best selves. Follow Sarah on Twitter, Instagram and enquiries at Sarah Godfrey

Recommended for you