At TeamFit, we are carrying out a survey on skills in professional services. Basically we are asking what skills contribute to success today and tomorrow.

Please contribute to this survey

This has gotten us into many conversations about skills over the past few weeks. Some of these have turned on what skills have really helped people with their careers and what skills we would like to foster in our children and the people we mentor.

There seem to be three basic patterns here.

Some people would give the gift (and encourage study) of foundational skills, those skills that many other skills can be built on. Examples are ‘mathematics,’ ‘literacy,’ ‘music’ (a surprising number of people who are not professional musicians admire music and the mental and emotional grounding it gives) and ‘communications.’ My favourite here is ‘learning.’ Is learning a skill? Can we help people to get better at learning?

Another group of skills that seem to cluster together are life skills (I wanted to call these emotional skills but that combination of words gave me a bit of cognitive dissonance). The skills mentioned here range from ‘Emotional Quotient ‘(EQ) to ‘resilience’ and even ‘friendship.’ I had never thought of friendship as a skill! If it is a skill then it is certainly one I would like to be better at.

There are also more practical people who mention real world, very practical skills. My favourite of these, more of a life skill than a job skill for most of this, are the people who say ‘cooking.’ Other popular choices here, biased by my personal network, are ‘data analysis,’ ‘data visualization,’ ‘market segmentation,’ ‘service design,’ and ‘visual communication’ and ‘sketching.’ It is useful to know what skills are trending in different sectors (which is what our survey is finding out). This information can tell you about where a sector is heading and how people are address and planning to address its challenges. I work at the intersection of B2B SaaS and management consulting. People are looking at new models for market segmentation that are driven by real-time data (hence the interest in data, visualization and market segmentation). Professional services companies are also looking for new business models, which probably accounts for the interest in service design.

Take a few minutes this week and ask a friend what skill they would most like to develop and how you can help them to do this. Ask them what skill they think you should be investing in.

We are putting the ability to suggest skills, projects and roles at the center of TeamFit 2.0. In today’s world our skills and careers depend on other people.

Top image from an article on grafting fruit trees.