The Relevance of Soft Skills in the era of AI, ML, and Robots Our Soft Skills make us humans and that's something we can never ignore

By Sudhkar Reddy

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As we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution: "the age of intelligence." It's long been known that AI and automation/robotics will change markets and workforces. As AI improves, which is happening quickly, a much broader set of "thinking" rather than "doing" jobs will be affected.

Some people may say that we will never trust machines with important decisions such as the management of our health and money, but this is twentieth-century thinking. But a new generation is engaging with smart devices that they trust, and often prefer. Further, it's hard for anyone to argue with results.

Career Changes – What's in Store?

The booming growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), like most transformational technologies, is both exciting and scary. It's exciting to consider all the ways our lives may improve, from managing our calendars to making medical diagnoses, but it's creepy to examine the social and personal implications — and particularly the consequences for our careers. As machine learning continues to grow, we all need to develop new skills to differentiate ourselves.

But which ones?

But does leading with heart play a vital role in an increasingly automated workplace?

What can EQ do to accelerate productivity in a world where machine learning and robotics are the norms?

Regardless of the workplace - be it a football field or a technology company - you have to influence hearts and minds to win. We need to motivate people to bring their best efforts to the agreed business mission. That requires human traits like intuition, empathy, and compassion. These are embodied in skills like actively listening -- when receiving a leader's complete attention makes an employee feel like "that person understands me and my needs."

Soft Skill – The Way Forward

As increasingly the value of some of our most prized career paths is already being eroded, Soft skills would be one of those skills which would be in vogue in tomorrow's world.

A famous saying by Albert Einstein that "Empathy patiently and sincerely see the world through the other person's eyes. It is not learned in school; it is cultivated over a lifetime."

Which eventually means that it would be very tough for the machine to replicate it, however, Intelligent it is going to be.

So, in the era of AI, ML, NLP, Robots, If you as a leader want to stay relevant in your profession you will need to focus on skills and capabilities that artificial intelligence has trouble replicating — such as understanding, motivating, and interacting with human beings. A smart machine might be able to diagnose an illness and even recommend treatment better than a doctor. It takes a person, however, to sit with a patient, understand their life situation (finances, family, quality of life, etc.), and help determine what treatment plan is optimal.


Skills like empathy, social understanding are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence, and machine learning take over our other tasks. Unfortunately, these human-oriented skills have generally been viewed as a second priority regarding training and education.

I feel that "People skills are more and more important in an era where we have the powerful and pervasive technology" as they would become more valued than technology in the years to come. "Machines may take over more routinized and lower-value-add work; however, more people are needed to work in the context of what automation and AI cannot do."

According to a study from the University of Michigan, teaching employees' soft skills boosts productivity and retention by 12%, delivering a 256% return on investment. It says beyond words that in future soft skills are going to be more critical than in the present contest.

If you can be an outstanding motivator, manager, or listener, then you will still have a part to play as technology changes your industry.

Sudhkar Reddy

Founder- Executive Director, Nirvedha Executive Coaching Solutions

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