Purposeful Talent Development: Future Proofing the Workforce is Not just Technical 

adorable little boy thinking on a technology background
Jennifer Stangl Photo
Director of Professional Development

3 minutes

Skills we need going forward also include collaboration, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and leadership.

The need to future proof our workforce through talent development is not a new concept. We’ve experienced change in the workplace over and over in the last 100+ years. However, learning from the past, we are now more aware of the need to future proof our organizations, and are taking proactive steps to avoid being left behind. 

Asked what competencies or skills are needed to future proof our workforce, we tend to answer with technology. We talk about data science, digital literacy, machine learning, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. These definitely are some of the skills of the future, but they are not the only ones. In this ever-changing world, future proofing our workforce includes a mix of technical, industry, professional and leadership skills. 

To balance the scales on talking about future skills, let’s take a look at those that fall within the professional or leadership categories. 


The modern workplace is all about working together with others. Our ability to collaborate has evolved with opportunities to do so face-to-face, via video software and through online tools. We need to communicate effectively so our messages are understood as intended regardless of the medium, and be willing to share our time, energy and knowledge with others to build mutually beneficial relationships. We must encourage staff to connect with new people in new ways and help them to recognize how collaboration can support not only members but their own workflows.

Emotional Intelligence

Hand in hand with communication and collaboration, emotional intelligence is essential for those with any member service (internal or external), sales or leadership responsibilities. Technological advances aren’t yet able to replicate the emotions of a human and our ability to demonstrate empathy, build rapport and be aware of our own and others’ emotions. Knowing what to do with these emotions is crucial for building strong relationships and boosting results within your team or organization. 

Cognitive Flexibility

We need to be flexible. We have tremendous opportunity to gather information and insight but need to be able to think quickly on our feet, even when a situation that is new or unexpected presents itself. Harnessing the ability to mentally switch from one perspective or concept to another or consider multiple perspectives or concepts at once increases our ability to keep up with the rapid changes of this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.  

Horizontal Leadership

As our world becomes more interconnected, so does our leadership. The functional silos of the past are no longer helpful to credit unions, and our leaders need to understand more than just their individual functions. At all levels, leaders need to connect, build stronger partnerships and be aware how work in their areas impacts others. When leaders demonstrate collaborative behaviors with other departments, staff can follow their lead.   

Regardless of your role, reflect on the work that you have done to help future proof your staff or workforce. Have you identified the competencies your workforce will need for the future? Does the list include more than just technology or technical skills for individual roles? Have you shared these competencies with your staff or identified resources to support development of these skills? 

Make the investment in your workforce through talent development, share the critical competencies they need and resources to help them develop. CUES has a variety of resources available to help you, many already included in your CUES member benefits. You might also be interested in CUES Consulting Services for supporting your workforce. 

Jennifer Stangl is CUES’ director of professional development. 

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