The market is evolving at a faster pace than ever due to the crisis and uncertainties we are facing right now, but that doesn’t mean it is entirely unpredictable. There are still career paths to pursue, opportunities to seize, and plenty of chances to develop as a professional. Businesses are adapting to the changes happening across the market, and professionals should too.

2020 is a great year for personal development. The landscape is shaping up to be very interesting. Trends are taking shape and businesses are making adjustments to their long-term plans. Nevertheless, strategic positions and new roles are being made available to those with the right set of skills and experience.

So, what are the best skills to master in 2020? What can you do to prepare yourself better for the changes happening on the market and new trends that come afterwards? In this article, we are going to take a look at the top 10 skills to master for 2020 and beyond.

1. Leadership

Never underestimate the value of leadership as a skill. Modern work environments and corporate cultures are being built around teamwork and collaborations. Those with superb leadership skills are more likely to succeed in the modern professional environment.

As a skill, leadership is best sharpened through several means. Taking business and management courses from top names such as Aston Online is a good way to get started. You will learn about how leadership can affect business operations in different ways.

Practice is also a good way to sharpen your ability to lead. The next time a project comes up, don’t hesitate to volunteer as the leader of the team. By being actively involved as a leader, you gain the opportunity to learn from processes and mistakes.

As an added bonus, leadership is a skill that gets better when supplemented with other skills such as communication, empathy, and project management. That actually brings us to the second top skill, which is….

2. Project Management

Every part of a business’s operation can be seen as small projects waiting to be completed. Every granular task, every mundane piece of work, and every element of a workflow are small projects. When they get completed effectively and efficiently, the workflow becomes effective and efficient.

Project management goes beyond managing individual tasks though; it also takes into account the bigger picture and long-term goals. It involves planning and resource provisioning. It also takes into account risks and create contingencies.

With businesses becoming more complex, being able to manage projects effectively and efficiently is a huge plus. You’ll be surprised by how much more organized you can be as a professional when you start implementing project management approaches to your day-to-day activities at work.

Project management has another benefit to offer – mastering project management means boosting your effectiveness as a part of the team. You can begin seeing inefficiencies across business operations and can even recommend ways to streamline processes further.

3. Collaboration

As mentioned before, collaboration is the key to modern business operations. Businesses are now structured to rely on multiple key team members rather than a single figure, and the approach can be seen across every process in the company.

Being able to collaborate is a great way to position yourself for managerial roles. Managers are required to do cross-department alignment and communications. They must be able to convey ideas and accept input or feedback in a positive way.

Collaboration is also the key to scalability. When team members work together, more can be done over a shorter period of time, despite the limited resources available to those team members. By supporting each other, positive results can be achieved with ease.

Collaboration is a skill that can be developed. Similar to leadership, it is also a skill that gets supplemented by other soft skills such as listening, empathy, and emotional intelligence. Be an excellent team player to secure a better future for yourself.

4. Creativity

The next skill on our list is creativity. Gone are the days of reverting to theories found in books and literature. Today’s market is all about innovation and thinking outside the box, which is why creativity is a huge skill to have.

Even when you are in business management, being able to think creatively when solving problems or analyzing situations is an advantage. Rather than trying the same solution, again and again, you can come up with a new one and improve the process along the way.

Creativity is also beneficial when you are performing certain roles such as marketing, communications, and sales. That extra edge that comes from being able to think creatively allows you to adapt to changes in the market better.

As a result, creative people excel regardless of the fields they are in. Thinking outside the box and being creative is not a cliché or jargon; it is a valuable skill to have as we go deeper into 2020 and beyond.

5. Negotiation

Of course, we cannot talk about top skills to have as a professional without talking about negotiation. Similar to project management, negotiation is a skill that gets used very often. Everything, from getting a budget plan approved to winning a new client, is closely related to negotiation.

Negotiation is a skill that cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence (AI) or be fully automated. It is one of the very few skills that set you apart from other experienced professionals in your field. Being able to get the results you want from negotiations is how you secure a spot in the future.

Besides, being a good negotiator helps you mitigate different situations better. When you are a leader and you want to get everyone on board with a new plan, for instance, you can negotiate rewards and create systems that work.

There are a few things that good negotiators always do, and one of them is gaining an understanding of the situation. Top negotiators rely on data and insights before entering a dialogue. These too are skills to have in today’s modern market.

6. Data Analysis

Everyone can be an analyst, especially now that there are so many data nodes and streams to tap into. However, not all professionals are capable of generating real value from data. That’s why we have data scientists; those who specialize in performing that exact task.

Still, knowing how to consume and analyze data is important for the future of your career. For starters, even insights need further analysis before they can be as valuable as they are. You have to read insights in context and from a suitable point of view.

There is also more data to crunch and not enough time to process it all. Rather than making the wrong decisions or delaying your decision-making process, it is better to know how to read into data and gather the insights you need quickly.

Data analysis doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to master the entire field of data science to be a good and capable data reader and analyst; you just have to know how to look beyond the noise and get to the key insights you need correctly.

7. User Experience

If you think delivering positive user experience is important right now, wait until you see the many trends shaping up on the market for the future. User experience is a key component to success for businesses. Without it, you will not be able to keep customers happy at all times.

UX design is a field that has been getting a lot of attention. Many business executives return to school and take UX-related classes so that they can deliver a better user experience to customers. Executives also take UX theories and approaches as aids when making critical business decisions.

User experience design is closely related to business process management. Once you fully understand the kind of user experience that you want to deliver, adjusting business processes to ensure the delivery of positive UX is the next step to take.

Fortunately, you can take the same approaches used in UX design to your business process management cycle. The only difference is that you now focus on employees or team members rather than the customers directly.

8. Decision-Making

Our next skill is an all-time must-have: decision-making. Decisiveness is what sets you apart from team members who will always be followers. If you are serious about nailing that mid- or top-management job, you have to master decision-making on a whole new level.

Decision-making is a three-step process: gather the information, understand the situation, decide accordingly. The application of this theory, however, can be incredibly complex. The information is not always complete, the situation can be very difficult, and there may not be the right decision.

Mastering this skill means realising that you have to take responsibility for the decisions you make. There may not be a right or wrong decision, but that doesn’t mean you can decide without fully understanding the reasoning behind your decision.

Aside from being a key skill, decision-making also helps you become a better project manager and leader. It is a component to your success as a manager, and a crucial skill to develop in 2020. Get comfortable with data and insights to begin improving your ability to decide.

9. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not only a nice-to-have skill or trait these days; being emotionally intelligent is a must. As the business world moves at a faster pace, there is really no room for personal vendettas and grudges. Everything needs to be viewed objectively, and the only way to do that is by being emotionally intelligent.

Emotional intelligence can be seen in how we interact with colleagues and other professionals. It is shown in how we convey concerns and communicate with others. Emotional intelligence is what will stop you from blowing up when disagreeing.

Judging from how emotional intelligence is now one of the primary skills to have, it is also clear that the business world prioritizes social success as much as financial success. There is no point in completing all of your projects and achieving KPIs if other team members struggle to keep up.

And yes, emotional intelligence is a skill. There are courses and training programs designed to help you sharpen your empathy and improve your emotional intelligence. If you want to become a better professional as a whole, emotional intelligence training is worth looking into.

10. Programming

Last but certainly not least, we have programming or coding. Learning how to code and mastering a programming language is great for your professional career. You don’t have to pivot and become a programmer or a software engineer. You can benefit from knowing how to code in so many ways.

When learning to code, you are sharpening your logical thinking skills and your ability to solve problems. After all, coding is all about solving existing issues using algorithms, routines, and runtimes. It’s the thinking behind coding that you need to fully understand.

Once you have achieved a level of confidence in your logical thinking ability, you will feel calmer and more ready for problems. Even in difficult situations, you will still be able to go through the facts in a logical way, and then think creatively to general solutions.

While logical thinking is valuable, programming is also a practical skill to have. Most programming languages are very similar to each other. You can be more involved in creating products and services. You can also speak to engineers in a language that they understand. All of these advantages are useful in today’s market and the market of the future.

Mastering the Right Skills

These are the top 10 skills to master in 2020 and beyond. These skills will help push you further along your career path, regardless of the field you are in. There are more ways to pick up and sharpen these skills too, including university courses, short courses on online platforms, digital books and materials, and other resources. All you need to do now is pick a skill to improve and get started.