In 2016 a group of researchers from Harvard University investigated previous findings from earlier work done by Charles R Mann in 1918[1] where he concluded the following about the effectiveness of management:

85% of effective managerial and leadership success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge.

And what were the important soft skills that were the most important:

  1. Leadership
  2. Collaboration
  3. Communication
  4. Time management

Let’s fast-forward to 2018 and the age of robots and AI and the relevance of soft skills. All we need to do is gaze around the world around us: just about every form of human endeavour has become so tremendously complex and technologically advanced yet it is not robots that will organisations to survive but people with skills and ambition and the motivation and ability to work harmoniously with others – All the things AI and robots cannot do – yet.

The Automation Readiness Index, a report created by The Economist Intelligence Unit, assesses how well-prepared 25 countries are for the challenges and opportunities of intelligent automation. Maybe unsurprisingly, it shows that most countries are not ready for the automation revolution.

According to the study, education and training should be at the centre of long-term strategies to deal with the challenges that automation brings. More specifically, people should be trained to become adaptable learners who can trade on those skills which computers lack: soft skills. 


LinkedIn recently surveyed 2,000 business leaders and asked them which soft skills they’d most like to see their employees learn.

Here’s what they listed as the most in-demand skills soft skills:

  1. Leadership
  2. Collaboration
  3. Communication
  4. Time management

Nothing much has changed in 100 years!

“As long as not every single human is replaced by a robot, we’ll need good managers who are able to cope with change and the constantly evolving workplace. More efficient processes will require more efficient collaboration and communication, and time will be even more at a premium”

Training for Survival

I have been involved in training managers for almost 30 years and am always amazed at how I struggle to convince training executives, on the fact that they should spend at least 85% of their budget on soft skills development. I have heard every excuse in the book: “no time”; “no money”, “end of the year”; “restructuring” (that’s a perennial favourite) etc.

It is training for survival. Disruption and technology are changing the nature of many types of businesses that are taken for granted. Taking the future for granted and apathy are the two biggest risks in business today – ask Toys r Us, department store formats, Edgars, Checkers, OK Bazaars (remember them); think of the relevance of DSTV in 5 years’ time; metered taxis, cashiers in your supermarket in the next decade? Landline telephones?

Do your managers have the soft skills to take you through the turbulent years ahead?

Be the Manager You Need to Be

85% of all the Soft Skills you need in one Online package:

  1.   Be Clear (The Basics of Communication)
  2.   Be Effective (Interpersonal Skills to Build Positive Workplace Relationships)
  3.   Be Productive (Effective Management Skills)
  4.   Be Inspiring (The Manager as Leader as Source of Inspiration)
  5.   Be Motivational (The Fundamentals of Motivation)
  6.   Be Savvy (How to Lead with Emotional Intelligence)

Contact Larry Lincoln on 083 284 3363 or at


[1] Mann, RC. 1918. A Study of Engineering, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 11.

Success as a manager and leader is not determined by a university or college degree nor experience on the job.  Research has shown that the only determining factor that makes the difference between indifferent and ineffective leadership is a person’s ability to use strong people skills, or as it is now known as ‘soft skills’.

“Deloitte found that the skills students gained in school — time management,
academic knowledge, teamwork and analytical skills — were different from those
that employers valued — leadership, sales talent,
general business knowledge and being entrepreneurial.”

(Skills Learned in School Differ From Those Demanded at Work, by Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal)


It is common sense that the power of an organisation’s success lies in the hands of its employees – the salespersons, those who manage teams and projects, build, fix, plan, motivate, inspire and dedicate themselves to creating a place where people like to do business – inspired employees who like to work for your company.

It is also common sense that organisations make soft skills the number one priority of any organisational learning and development strategy.

In reality, we all know that common sense is not a trait that wins out against budgets, time and apathy. Too often human resource and L&D practitioners are reluctant to make the right decision – to develop and nurture talent to become your leaders and the drivers for business growth.

Soft skills represent the intangible qualities that enable managers and leaders to work with and interact with the workforce effectively.


The human qualities of great leadership include self-awareness, communication, empathy and emotional intelligence are what makes soft skills powerful learning tools for winning over the hearts and minds of your employees.


Soft Skills Training does not need to be expensive or time-consuming or difficult to do especially in large organisations

To find out about smarter options – contact Training Fundamentals Online to find out more about Be the Manager You Need to Be ©


True Grit, some may remember this as a movie, or movies. First made in 1969 and starring John Wayne and directed by Henry Hathaway. John Wayne won his only Oscar for this film. The film was remade again in 2010, starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), hires “Rooster” Cogburn (John Wayne) because she believes he has “true grit” to hunt down the killer of her murdered father. And so, the story unfolds.


I bring up this concept of true grit in one of my learning programmes and some of my clients are puzzled why it takes up so much space and time. True grit in the case of this programme is called discipline and self-sacrifice and is included in the module of personal development.

This programme was originally conceived to fill a gap to develop young graduate interns in a number of industries who weren’t ‘work ready’; ironically, we discovered, together with the learning and development and operations managers of these organisations, that many entrenched management, fell into the same category – not exactly not ‘work ready’ but displaying serious personal development deficits that presented barriers to further personal and career growth.

One of these was the lack of understanding that to succeed at anything you have to keep on going no matter what, in other words, you must apply true grit.

I use many analogies from the world of sport, as this is what people generally relate to: blood, sweat and tears, but I also describe the brain mechanics of positive thinking attitudes and how this affects one’s ability to aim for success.

So, I happen to find this recently on one of my favourite daily websites I subscribe to and decided to share it with you:

“The Theory of “Grit”
as a Predictor of Success in Life”

It was written by Thomas Oppong and you can follow his blog too:


Here are a few of the highlights of his article in Medium:

  • Beyond IQ, talent, and whatever else has any kind of effect on anything, what most affects your ability to achieve your goals is grit. 
  • The only person that can really push you a little bit further in life is yourself.  
  • The only person that can really push you a little bit further in life is yourself. 
  • Grit is associated with perseverance, resilience, ambition, and the need for achievement. It involves maintaining goal focused effort for extended periods of time.
  • The ability to stick with and pursue a goal over a long period is an important indicator of achieving anything worthwhile in life. 
  • Grit takes time, and many people aren’t giving it. The cost of being the best and pushing towards meaningful work takes a lot of sacrifice.


These are important life lessons and I believe should be part of many soft skills learning programmes: Yes, PLOC is important, as is leadership styles and communication skills, but learning about how to apply oneself to the long, hard daily grind of life is as important.

My students and other participants who have been on my courses will have heard me go on about these topics; the life lessons NOT included in the majority of soft skills leadership/managerial programmes.

Contact me if you want to know more (083 284 3363) – Larry.

The website I found True Grit on is Medium Daily Digest (Google this name and select the App for mobile or a daily email feed to your computer). The site offers a range of topics you can select from. All items take about 5 to 10 minutes to read and are a change from all the dire daily news and disaster. I’d love to hear from you if you have subscribed and what you think about it. 




[My thanks to Medium Daily Digest and Thomas Oppong for the excerpts from the story]

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you can greatly improve your staff’s performance, effectiveness and efficiency, just by using this online learning tool.

Cut back on wasted repeated training times, endless toing and froing, money spent over and over at seminars and workshops, misunderstandings, poor performance, frustrations, missed deadlines, incomplete work, upset clients, angry top-level management, bad delegation, follow-up and feedback. Basically, poor performing departments as a whole.

Remember that your department is only as strong as your weakest link.




Lawrence Lincoln | Training Fundamentals (TFND)
Cell: 083 284 3363 | Email:
Facebook: @TFNDonlinelearning | LinkedIn: larry-lincoln-a07aab14
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