Future-Proof Your Work Skills

by Nancy Zwiers | 23 Feb 2023

The Bloom Report

Future-Proof Your Work Skills

By Nancy Zwiers

Are you ready for the future?  McKinsey released a report this past year entitled “Defining the Skills Citizens will Need in the Future World of Work.”  Based on a research project spanning 18,000 respondents across 15 countries, this fascinating report on the skills you'll need most going forward is a treasure trove of perspective on professional growth.  I use it in my executive coaching practice to help clients identify strengths they want to fully leverage and potential weaknesses they want to mitigate through structures, processes, and people.




The report defines four major domains of “distinct elements of talent” with 13 subgroups:

  • Cognitive, including:
    • Critical thinking
    • Planning and ways of working
    • Communication
    • Mental flexibility
  • Interpersonal, including:
    • Mobilizing systems
    • Developing relationships
    • Teamwork effectiveness
  • Self-Leadership, including:
    • Self-awareness and self-management
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Goals Achievement
  • Digital, including:
    • Digital fluency and citizenship
    • Software use and development
    • Understanding digital systems


Within each of these domains and 13 subgroups, and McKinsey goes deeper still to outline the 56 elements of “talent.”


Below, I summarize several conclusions on which of the 56 talents correlate with important measures of success and later include the definition for each talent cited:


  • The four talents most highly correlated with Employment (i.e. being employable) are as follows—and take particular note of how the top two reflect the reality of our fast-changing world:
    • Adaptability (by far!)
    • Coping with uncertainty
    • Synthesizing messages
    • Achievement orientation


  • The three talents most highly correlated with High Income reflect traditional executive level talents:
    • Work-plan development 
    • Organizational awareness 
    • Self-confidence


  • The three talents most highly correlated with Job Satisfaction are, interestingly enough, all in the domain of Self-leadership:
    • Self-motivation and wellness
    • Coping with uncertainty (again)
    • Self-confidence (again)




Adaptability - The ability to be open to changing the way of doing things even if it requires effort or learning new skills.

  • Desired level of proficiency: Individuals easily adapt to new situations or ways of working, even when new skills are required.

Coping with uncertainty - The ability to operate effectively in situations with high uncertainty or when things do not go according to plan.

  • Desired level of proficiency: Individuals consider uncertainty to be the default state and keep operating effectively, unaffected by unexpected changes.

Synthesizing messages - The ability to communicate a large amount of information concisely and insightfully.

  • Desired level of proficiency: Individuals are able to synthesize a large amount of information into short messages that provide only those relevant insights that have an impact on the future

Achievement orientation - The ability to distinguish ends and means and change the strategy to achieve goals.

  • Desired level of proficiency: Individuals always distinguish ultimate goals from the means to achieve them and can change strategy to achieve those goals.

Work-plan development - The ability to identify, group, and sequence the tasks needed to achieve a certain goal and to assign deadlines and responsibilities.

  • Desired level of proficiency: Individuals are able to identify all project activities, the critical path, and interdependencies and assign deadlines accordingly. 

Organizational awareness - The ability to understand how large groups of people can cooperate and coordinate and the ability to navigate organizational procedures.

  • Desired level of proficiency: Individuals understand organizational procedures, roles, and decisions—both formal and informal—typically involved in most organizational efforts.

Self-confidence - The quality of trusting in one’s abilities, personal characteristics, and judgments.

  • Desired level of proficiency: Individuals trust their abilities and judgment and are very self-confident in most situations.

Self-motivation and wellness - The ability to maintain high motivation and energy by knowing and pursuing personal long-term goals as well as restorative activities.

  • Desired level of proficiency:  Individuals know which activities give daily energy and long-term purpose, keeping them motivated.


It is illuminating to read the definitions of all 56 talents and assess how you--or those you are trying to develop--fare in meeting proficiency definitions.  To that end, I am happy to share the full report with you—just email me at nzwiers@funosophy.com (“McKinsey” in subject line) and I will send you the report.  It is a great framework to inform performance assessment and professional development.


Nancy Zwiers, a former C-suite Executive with 30+ years of toy industry experience, advises on strategic business-building and provides executive coaching through CMO Coaches.  http://linkedin.com/in/nancy-zwiers-3167a 



#professionalskills #futureofwork #futureskills #ExecutiveCoaching

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