Adapt to Change

  • Adapt to varied roles, jobs responsibilities, schedules, and contexts
  • Work effectively in a climate of ambiguity and changing priorities

Be Flexible

  • Incorporate feedback effectively
  • Deal positively with praise, setbacks, and criticism
  • Understand, negotiate, and balance diverse views and beliefs to reach
  • workable solutions, particularly in multicultural environments

Interact Effectively with Others

  • Know when it is appropriate to listen and when to speak
  • Conduct themselves in a respectable, professional manner

Work Effectively in Diverse Teams

  • Respect cultural differences and work effectively with people from a range of social and cultural backgrounds
  • Respond open-mindedly to different ideas and values
  • Leverage social and cultural differences to create new ideas and increase both innovation and quality of work

Guide and Lead Others

  • Use interpersonal and problem-solving skills to influence and guide others toward a goal
  • Leverage strengths of others to accomplish a common goal
  • Inspire others to reach their very best via example and selflessness
  • Demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior in using influence and power

Be Responsible to Others

  • Act responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind

SOURCE: Excerpted from P21 Framework Definitions, Partnership for 21st Century Skills December 2009 [copyrighted—available at [August 2011].

These and other available definitions are not necessarily at odds, but in Fiore’s view, the lack of a single, clear definition reflects a lack of theoretical clarity about what they are, which in turn has hampered progress toward developing assessments of them. Nevertheless, appreciation for the importance of these skills—not just in business settings, but in scientific and technical collaboration, and in both K-12 and postsecondary education settings—has been growing. Researchers have documented benefits these skills confer, Fiore noted. For example, Goleman (1998) found they were twice as important to job performance as general cognitive ability. Sonnentag and Lange (2002) found understanding of cooperation strategies related to higher performance among engineering and software development teams, and Nash and colleagues (2003) showed that collaboration skills were key to successful interdisciplinary research among scientists.

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