The most in-demand skill of 2020 and 4 ways to cultivate it

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The most in-demand skill of 2020 and 4 ways to cultivate it

Creativity is the most in-demand soft skill in the world for the second year in a row, according to an analysis by LinkedIn. The professional networking site analyzed thousands of job postings to determine the skills companies need most in 2020.

Creativity is a skill that workers in every industry need, writes Deanna Pate for the LinkedIn Learning blog. It’s also a skill that can help employees avoid being displaced by automation.

Creativity is in such high demand because it helps both individuals and organizations achieve their goals, writes Rebecca Shambaugh for the Harvard Business Review. Leaders need talent who can identify better ways to solve problems and challenge the status quo, argues Shambaugh, a leadership expert.

But it can be difficult to get students and employees to share their ideas or think outside the box. Shambaugh shares how leaders can unlock their team’s creativity.

Your students and employees may hold back their innovative ideas because they feel that certain processes are set in stone or worry there’s too much administrative red tape to make a change.

Examine the procedures you have in place and determine whether they hinder the ability to innovate and experiment, recommends Shambaugh. If you can, streamline processes to make it easier for people to suggest new ideas and collaborate with others around campus.

Psychological safety boosts effectiveness because it creates a “learning culture” where students and employees feel that empowered to take risks, according to research from Google’s people analytics team. You can create a physiologically safe environment by treating setbacks as an opportunity to learn, not as proof of failure.

You’re probably familiar with psychologist Carol Dweck’s research into fixed vs. growth mindsets from a student success perspective—but this research can also be applied to the office.

Employees with fixed mindsets tend to interpret early challenges with creativity as a sign they’re not capable of it, writes Shambaugh. When you notice an employee struggling to see himself as creative, explain that creativity is a skill you can build over time. You can also coach your employee on how to pitch new ideas to the team and how to take calculated risks at work.

When we’re stressed, we’re less open to new ideas. Encourage both students and employees to take a break or go for a walk when they’re stumped on a problem. Research has found that doing something boring and letting your mind wander is a great way to come up with new ideas

Sources: Pate, LinkedIn blog, 1/13/20; Petrone, LinkedIn blog, 1/1/19; Shambaugh, Harvard Business Review, 1/31/19

Learn more about how to think creatively