The Top Skills You Need to Succeed at Work — and at Home


There are career skills, and then there are life skills. At a certain point, you’ll need to develop both to succeed. But how?

In our latest series on LinkedIn, “Mind the Skills Gap,” we asked some of the world’s most successful business leaders to reveal the skills they’re honing in 2016. In addition to mastering hard skills such as public speaking and coding, 50+ Influencers say they are also cultivating softer skills, such as self-awareness, positivity, humility, empathy, and even the ability to find work-life balance.

From Richard Branson to Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec and GM’s Mary Barra, find out when these top minds in business first acknowledged they could do better, and how they’ve developed realistic plans for improvement.

YOUR TURN: What’s the one skill you plan to learn (or refine) this year? Discuss your strategies for improvement, and how you plan to reach the next level. Write your own post here; be sure to use #SkillsGap somewhere in the body of your post.

Here are some of the skills that Influencers are focusing on this year. What about you?

Manage your career the way you’d perfect your backhand.


On Necker Island, Richard Branson works with a tennis coach to improve his backhand. By focusing on recovery, early preparation, confidence, and practice, the Virgin Group founder is perfecting his strokes the same way he has developed a winning strategy in business:

“A key lesson that applies far beyond tennis is to treat each point separately. Forget the last mistake and move onto the next challenge.” — Richard Branson

Offering advice is one of the best leadership skills you can have.


Part of Mary Barra’s job as the CEO of General Motors Company is to coach future leaders. In grooming the next generation, however, Barra has noticed this: “The word ‘feedback’ can trigger ‘fight, flight or freeze’ instincts. Substituting ‘advice’ for ‘feedback’ can make coaching more impactful.” Other than being willing to offer honest advice, these are some of the other leadership skills that Barra has developed over the years.

That skill you spent years building? It may not be your most valuable asset.


The president of Eurasia Group recalls spending “nine years, three degrees, and a Cold War” learning Russian. Looking back, all the energy he spent mastering another language may have been for naught. “Though I studied Russian for many years, my Russian skills have atrophied over time,” Bremmer writes. “What remains is the insight I gathered into the mentality, familiarizing myself with how other people in the world live by interacting with them directly.”

As Bremmer points out, technology (i.e. Google Translate) may help reduce language barriers in the future, but the world will still need people who can navigate cultural barriers. His advice?

“Learn cultures, not languages. Study other points of view. The more you know about different regions of the world, the better off you are.” — Ian Bremmer

Replace paranoia with positivity.


Robert Herjavec of ABC’s “Shark Tank” used to believe that entrepreneurs had to be paranoid in order to succeed. As someone who used to imagine worst-case scenarios, Herjavec says he is now resolving to ask instead, “What’s the best that can happen?”

“My best business decisions have been made when I’ve leaned in, taken the leap outside of my comfort zone and been fueled by a positive focus.” — Robert Herjavec

Understand why humility in the workplace matters more than ever.


Of all the traits that can derail careers, EY’s Bob Patton says selfish behavior is the primary culprit: “Rarely do I see a career ruined due to the lack of ‘hard skills.’ More often than not, when a career goes south, it is an issue of self — self-absorption, self-interested, or self-serving… I have seen people get hurt, teams unravel and critical initiatives fail all because of one person’s self-centered posturing.” In outlining three ways you can change your behavior, Patton describes the greatest skill you can ever learn: the art of selflessness. Is he right?

Life skills aside, LinkedIn’s Economic Graph team also took a closer look at the data and shared their predictions for the most in-demand skills for 2016.

In the coming weeks, we’ll also feature more posts from Influencers and members alike:

YOUR TURN: Name the skill you plan to learn (or refine) this year. What are your strategies for improvement, and how do you plan to reach the next level? Write your own post here; use #SkillsGap somewhere in the body of your post.

Graphics by Jacqueline Zaccor/LinkedIn

Official LinkedIn Blog


About Author

Colin Cooper is the CEO of Boost Your Business, the leader in marketing and business development for both large and small scale businesses. As one of the most innovative marketing specialists for over a decade, Colin and his team of business and online experts collate their years of know-how and experiences with the Boost Your Business: Body Armour for Business, an online magazine created to provide a holistic resource avenue for everything business, health, and wellness.