Soft skills and hard skills have long been part of industry speak. However, a new term has been trending in the Human Resources and Learning and Development space – Power Skills.
The past few years have left the workplace in a constant state of flux which has posed a challenge for businesses to thrive and remain successful. In response, influential industry figures have called for the reframing of soft skills as ‘power skills’, to emphasise their value in the workplace.
Here is what you need to know about this new industry term and why business leaders cannot afford to dismiss it as just another buzzword.
What are power skills?
Whilst hard skills refer to specific job-related knowledge and technical know-how, power skills are those personal qualities that impact the way we work, collaborate, and lead in the workplace.
Yu Dan Shi, an author, coach, and Head of Behavioural Science APAC for digital coaching platform CoachHub, says power skills are vital in developing effective leaders.
“We believe soft skills are so vital to leaders that we prefer to use the term power skills,” Shi says. “Power skills like empathy, curiosity, and adaptability are qualities that can’t be replaced by machines, and these human skills will help leaders navigate and prosper in today’s complex and ever changing world.”
Having leaders with strong power skills is critical for fostering a positive workplace culture. According to Shi, ‘power’ leaders are active listeners, resilient, and can manage ambiguity in the workplace. They adopt a growth mindset and are not afraid to talk about failure and learn from their mistakes.
The two most important power skills a leader should possess are empathy and self-awareness. “Great leaders build meaningful connections with their employees and have a deep understanding of their own skillset, character and feelings” Shi says.
What are the benefits of power skills?
Developing power skills provides leaders with a toolkit to lead in complex environments.
“Our clients are seeing huge benefits from investing in power skills,” Shi says. “They’ve noticed their employees have become more resilient, proactive, adaptable and better leaders overall.”
“At an organisational level, these skills promote a healthier support network, facilitate open and transparent dialogue, and create trust.”
Power skills create a ripple effect, with ‘power’ leaders inspiring those around them. And leaders who inspire, provide support, and remain reliable are the cornerstone of a successful business.
How can you develop power skills?
The industry is starting to recognise just how valuable these skills are in the workplace, with research demonstrating that 70% of HR leaders identify power skills as important. Whilst Shi acknowledges this is a crucial step in the right direction, she warns they are not easy to learn.
“Many learning programs are helping leaders build their knowledge of power skills,” Shi says. “But these programs aren’t actually helping them develop the skills.”
“Learning power skills is not the same as learning a new technical skill. It requires a behaviour change. The best approach to developing these skills is through a cycle of reflection, learning, application, feedback, and a measurement of progress.”
“This is where coaching can come in handy,” Shi continues. “A coaching program offers a personalised, measurable and scalable way for individuals to understand how they can action these changes and regularly apply this learning.”
To truly harness the ‘power’ of these skills, businesses should invest in a culture of learning that spans across the workplace hierarchy.
“Most of the time people in the middle are the ones completing the really difficult work,” Shi notes. “They have to implement the strategy. They have to be the leader and the follower. Being stuck in the middle can leave them feeling stressed.”
“Organisations mentor junior staff but often lack a personalised training approach for middle-managers. At CoachHub, we have noticed more and more organisations are benefitting from combining a mentorship program with our coaching program.”
To maximise success at personal, professional and organisational levels, businesses should implement an effective coaching program and start training people in a range of power skills as early as possible.
A final word
With 56% of Australian workers planning to resign in the next six months, recruiting is at an all-time high. Shi recommends businesses take this time to look for recruits with power skills.
One cannot afford to ignore power skills. They are essential skills for leaders to manage complex business environments and lead to long-term benefits including employee retention, an enviable talent pipeline and having more leaders with empathy and self-awareness.
So, let’s join the movement and start reframing soft skills as power skills. Your business’ future might just depend on it.
Yu Dan Shi, is an author, coach, and Head of Behavioural Science APAC for digital coaching platform CoachHub. https://www.coachhub.com