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South Africa’s next Big 5

Collaboration, empathy, optimism, adaptability and grace

by Media Xpose

With the advent of AI and more and more jobs becoming increasingly automated, ‘soft’ human skills — which cannot yet be replicated by machines — have become crucial success factors in all careers. Collaboration, empathy, optimism, adaptability, grace – these are the soft skills they don’t teach you in school – but are increasingly acknowledged as essential to the future of leadership in an organisation, and the world at large.

In 2017, consultancy firm Deloitte reported that, “soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030”. And today, talent acquisition and recruitment specialists will confirm that hiring employees with soft skills is not only necessary but also goes a long way to improving teams, building culture, as well as increasing overall company performance, too.

Which soft skills are most important to master?

Which soft performance skills will level up the field of play and outweigh the career experience on your CV? These days, companies are seeking out ‘The Big 5’ in terms of soft skill acquisition amongst leaders and team players. These include collaboration, empathy optimism, adaptability and, perhaps the softest on the list, but arguably the most impactful, is grace.

“It’s becoming more and more vital to hire for skills that can’t be taught in school but rather acquired through character building and life experience,” says Mark Levy, Founder of South Africa’s recently launched and most coveted educational eLearning platform, Playbox. The new platform provides an affordable, one-of-a-kind, all-access-pass to South Africa’s greatest icons-turned-coaches — who share not only the how-to of their respective crafts but also the softer skills that helped to escalate their careers to legend status.

As a tribute to learning the ropes through the trials and successes of South African greats, Playbox comfortably covers ‘The Big 5’ soft skills list through its meaningful storytelling and knowledge transfer techniques – and here they are:

1. Collaboration

In her Playbox, teaching Collective Leadership, one of Africa’s top 100 most reputable marketing leaders and industry players, Santie Botha, advocates for collaboration as one of the Big 5’s most coveted skillsets.

“As a leader, you have to be a team player,” says Botha. “It’s about long-term thinking, implementation with intent, collaboration and compassion.’’    

2. Empathy

No stranger to the human-centric workforce, empathy takes its place as one of the key players in charismatic leadership around the world. Prevalent in notable presidential statesmen, namely the late Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, Winston Churchill and Eva Perón – leaders today are sounding the call for empathy more and more to the world’s captains of industry, in an attempt to reinstate a certain human essence into the workplace.

In a deeper study on empathy, Harvard Business Review has demonstrated that empathetic companies undoubtedly outperform their more dismissive counterparts by at least 20%. Playbox Coach, Joey Rasdien, says empathy is one of the prevailing soft tools to comedic success, and self-development.

“When you understand how to use empathy, it becomes your superpower,” says Rasdien, reinforcing the notion that empathy is a skill to focus on amongst traditional qualification subsets.

3. Optimism

    There is a misconception that optimism is something you’re born with, but in fact it takes a certain kind of nerve and resilience to attain optimism and sustain it. It’s the kind of skill textbooks can’t teach you, but arguably, a Playbox coach can.

    Learning to be optimistic in the face of adversity is one of life’s toughest lessons, and a hard nut to crack in business. Ask critically acclaimed chef, Mogau Seshoene, aka The Lazy Makoti. In her Playbox, she shares the publishing trials of her very first cookbook and how a string of ‘no’s’ shaped her to begin believing in her own ‘yes’, leading her to best-selling success and the number one cookbook in South Africa, with over 34 000 copies sold and a fan following of over 600 000 in a short space of three years.

    “The experience definitely made me stronger, more determined, less likely to take a ‘no’; and it’s gifted me with confidence and self-belief,” says The Lazy Makoti.

    4. Adaptability

    A certain type of resilience goes hand-in-hand in growing one’s career and having the confidence to not only adapt with your changing landscape, but also to back yourself no matter the challenge.

    Ryan Sandes, world-renowned ultra-trail runner and South Africa’s golden boy as the first to win an ultra-trail on all seven continents, teaches the power of adaptability on and off the trail.

    “Life happens fast. It’s unpredictable, fast-paced, and changing all the time,” says Sandes. “It’s how you choose to adapt to your climate, landscape and all the odds, which will make the difference and push you to make it out there,” he adds.

    5. Grace

    It’s almost as underrated as it is invisible, yet soft skills like grace in the workplace are key to succeeding in your career as well as in your life. Yvonne Chaka Chaka teaches the art of grace in your music career, in her Playbox.

    “For me, grace begins with learning the art of ‘Sawubona, unjani?’”, says Chaka Chaka. “Unjani is one of my favourite South African words. It’s our African greeting that means ‘How are you?’ Am I ever too famous to stop asking that question? No. Am I ever too busy to forget to ask, ‘how are you?’ No. If you want to be successful, be human first,” says Chaka Chaka. “You need to see yourself in others, and others need to see themselves in you. That is grace.”

    For more info on how to access the full variety of Playbox lessons visit www.myplaybox.co.za.


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