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The people skills small businesses need by 2025

By Selsabil Amine

In our latest blog post, Selsabil Amine explores the people skills that small businesses will need over the next 5 years, and how Echo can help you skill up.

In my article on how SMEs can adapt to the new normal, I outlined 5 things small creative businesses can start doing to boost their business resilience in the ‘new normal’. But what is the new normal?

A report by the World Economic Forum refers to the ‘double disruption’ caused by the combined impact of the COVID-19 recession and Fourth Industrial Revolution (read: more automation).  This is the new normal, which demands new skills, capabilities, and outlooks.

In this article, I’ve outlined the top 4 people skills needed by 2025. Use the ‘what does this mean for you’ text to inform how you might want to plan your personal and business development to meet the skills needed in, and beyond, the next 5 years.


We all know the infamous differences between a leader and a boss. Now, and for the foreseeable future, leaders, not bosses, are needed more than ever. A leader invests in the sense of self-worth, belonging, and safety of their employees.

Research shows that this makes employees more likely to go the extra mile, propose creative suggestions, and think openly about improvement. On the other hand, unengaging management can lower employee morale and drag down productivity. 

It’s clear that it’s not just employees that require good leadership, but the business itself. Effective leaders can enjoy increased productivity with a workforce that is aligned with the organisational mission. This opens up the opportunity to network with other business leaders, and collaborate on projects, events, and products. 

What does this mean for you?

Are you a leader? Or a boss? The differences are crucial for your business in the next 5 years.


Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, a key ingredient of leadership, is the ability to recognise and respond to your own and others’ feelings and emotions. Put simply, emotional intelligence is a healthy mix of mature people skills and self-awareness.

What does this mean for you?

Your relationships with your workforce, partnerships, and other stakeholders are valuable. Though many small business owners are familar with a highly individualistic work ethic, excelling in your business goals does depend on your stakeholder relationships.

Upgrade these relationships by examining your business communications through an emotional intelligence lens. What about your internal communications with your workforce? Do your stakeholder relationships serve your goals, and if they don’t, could the problem lie with you?


Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a global stress response we have not seen for a generation. The effects of stress can make their way into all corners of our lives, careers, and plans. Stress tolerance, which requires organisational resilience and flexibility, is going to be a crucial resource.

What does this mean for you? 

How well do you deal with stress? What about your workforce? The report talks about many businesses choosing to create a sense of community, connection, and belonging within their workforce using digital tools. This is one way of responding to challenges posed by remote working and ever-changing public health threats.

Workforces and their leaders need to be emotionally intelligent in the way they face the pressure to get results, offering and recieving feedback or criticism, and personal and work-related difficulties. 

Naturally, good leadership and stress resilience boosts productivity and engagement. For your business, it may be time to develop a new way of working to prioritise the stress resilience and mental health of your team, not just results. 


Persuasion, social influence, and negotiation

As the divide between the digital and physical worlds blur with increased remote workign and e-commerce, the ability to stand out and be heard is a staple of achieving business goals.

This includes persuading others to view your mission or product in a new light. Crucially, however, it also includes the ability to reconcile differences between those in your workforce and network.

What does this mean for you?

Persuasion, social influence, and negotiation encompass all the skills mentioned above. In order to get your product, messages, services, and value out there, you need emotionally intelligent communications, a stress-resistant,  reconcilitory workforce, and an appetite for genuine leadership.

A business’s ability to thrive, not just survive, the next 5 years is going to depend on building real relationships that garner real social persuasion and influence.


Why not invest in your people skills now with Echo? Check out these one-to-one opportunities from our Echo members:


Influence with Impact: a 2 hour workshop with Alastair


Manage Stress Effectively with Breath and Life Coaching with Lousia


Mental and Emotional Workplace Resilience sessions with Karen