Shifting focus: Soft Skills Development a Key Priority for 2023

In a recent article published by Fast Company, research indicates that technical skills which previously outranked soft skills by hiring managers are no longer being sought out as these have become less appealing. Instead, there has been a noticeable shift in focusing on and identifying soft skills which are able to develop and grow other skills.

A similar sentiment is also reflected in the PMI’s Pulse of the Profession publication which emphasizes the importance of power skills (soft or interpersonal skills) which the PMI states has become a necessity for project professionals in navigating the rapidly changing business landscape.

While the current trend is in favour of developing soft skills, maintaining a solid foundation of technical skills is still important, and personal and career growth can be accelerated if the soft skills listed below are developed:

Fast Company’s 5 behavioural foundational skillsPMI’s 4 Most Critical Power Skills
Learning AgilityProblem Solving
   Growth MindsetCollaborative Leadership
Critical AnalysisStrategic Thinking


Think about the ways in which asking questions has helped you solve problems or broaden your perspective. Often, by practicing curiosity, we gather information quicker and more efficiently (ever come across an unfamiliar word or term and hit search on Google or asked a colleague for input?).

If we look at curiosity through the project lens, this skill is vital in the decision-making process, building and maintaining relationships with project team members and stakeholders, defining requirements, and in identifying and understanding the potential impact of risks. 

Learning Agility

Being able to learn something and apply it quickly or reframe your thinking enables you to keep up with constantly changing conditions. This ability enables you to learn, adapt, unlearn, and relearn.

In the world of projects, this skill is essential. Identifying what is working well, and what isn’t, and course correcting is important to move the project along and stay on track. Project members constantly need to adapt due to the nature of projects and its changing requirements, timelines, focus areas, and new project members joining the team.

Growth Mindset

Research shows that people who believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others have a growth mindset (Harvard Business Review). These individuals have been found to achieve more than individuals with a fixed mindset (believing talents are innate).

A growth mindset can be extremely beneficial for individuals working in projects as outcomes, learning and progress are part and parcel of the project landscape. However, while a growth mindset exists in individuals, it can be difficult to maintain if organisations or teams do not enforce growth policies such as rewarding lessons learned (the good and the bad) and supporting collaboration across organisational boundaries and project teams fosters.

Critical Analysis / Strategic Thinking / Problem Solving

Considering potential issues from different perspectives and the ability to draw themes from complex concepts or data is important in identifying next steps and in making informed decisions. These are also vital components when problem-solving, along with practicing curiosity by asking questions to uncover the underlying issues.  

Communication, Collaboration & Collaborative Leadership

Collaboration not only boosts team morale, but it also supports improved communication, problem solving, decision-making and learning and development. Collaboration is essential to overall project and organisational success and on which all organisational processes should originate from.

Project leaders with collaborative leadership skills have the ability to inspire team members to achieve and exceed project objectives and goals. Collaborative leaders are also able to establish trust, motivate team members, more clearly relay information, and manage conflict (Indeed, 2021).

Developing the interpersonal skills highlighted above can create a strong and solid base from which to launch and further develop other skills and talents throughout the span of your career (and in your personal life as well).

For more information on other digital Essential Skills identified for Project Professionals, read this article:

Afro Ant | Essential Digital Skills for Project Professionals