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Learning & Development Blog

Leaders in L&D: 6 Power Skills Needed to Lead Effectively

As we’ve written before, workforce agility is necessary for any organization to adapt to rapidly changing environments. After the pandemic hit worldwide, I think it’s safe to say that most organizations now operate in a significantly changed environment. Organizations across the globe have faced great challenges over the years. Are you equipped to lead in the new business world, especially with significant changes made to operations, process, and labor force? 

Whether you’re responsible for an employee, a team, a department, or an entire organization, developing effective leadership skills is critical. For years now, essential leadership skills have been referred to as “soft skills.” However, a growing business trend is now to refer to these said skills, as “power skills.” You constantly here about upskilling and reskilling, but the skills of the future are not technical, they’re behavioral.  Power skills are highly complex, they take time to learn, and they are constantly changing.  By emphasizing the importance of power skills, you can begin to build a culture of engagement and transparency.  



What are Power Skills? 

Power skills are essentially people skills and they’re absolutely critical for today’s business environments. Power skills include traits like emotional intellect, integrity, empathy, communication, creativity, collaboration, and more.  Moving to a remote workforce greatly shifted the business world’s view on these skills, which is why they focus on them being power skills instead of soft skills. This is in large due to the fact that in a remote work environment, it can be more difficult to communicate properly and possess the most effective people skills. Human needs are more complex in a digital environment, and it takes leaders with a certain level of emotional intelligence to understand their employees’ needs, along with strong communication and empathy to help figure out what works best.  

Power skills is both a description and acknowledgement of the importance of power and what have traditionally been denoted as soft skills. Although hard skills (such as coding or designing) are important, they can almost always be taught. These power skills mentioned above are traits and behaviors that people have and can refine with time. Truth be told, some of these power/soft skills can be more difficult to master than others. But power skills give us the ability to effectively lead others, even in uncertain situations. Whether it’s adapting to a remote or hybrid work environment, or creating a culture that’s more diverse, inclusive, and unbiassed, or finding new ways to improve efficiency, working in a state of continuous change is now expected.  

Power Skills are Essential for Effective Leadership 

Successful leaders not only understand the complexities of the work that needs to be done; they also understand the people behind the roles completing that work. These leaders know what will motivate their team, and they know what learning and development needs to be done to make the organization successful. Leaders need to be able to use their critical thinking and creativity to solve problems and to keep up with the ever-changing business landscape.   

As organizations now require more adaptability and agility from their leaders, job descriptions are more often emphasizing the importance of power skills. With that being said, organizations need to properly equip leaders and develop an operating plan that requires new strategic initiatives focused on power skills. If you’re concerned that you, as a leader, or a fellow team member may not possess strong power skills, there are several ways to improve. Consider a leadership development course, individual online training, or even seeking out a coach/mentor. 

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Which Power Skills Are Essential? 

Power skills will always set leaders apart from one another. There are dozens and dozens of skills to master in the workplace, but we’ve compiled a list of the most essential skills for success.  

  1. Communication: Communication skills allow you to give and receive information. This involves listening, speaking, and observing. In today’s work environment, communication styles vary from face-to-face, videoconferencing, email, text, and other media. 

  2. Conflict Management: Conflict management skills assist in managing and resolving conflict that may affect you, your employees, or your organization.  

  3. Emotional Intelligence (EI): EI is the ability to understand, manage, and use your emotions. It includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. With effective EI skills you’re able to communicate more effectively, empathize with others, relieve stress, and overcome more challenges, such as managing conflict.  

  4. Empathy: Empathy, not to be confused with sympathy, is the ability to emotionally understand how someone feels, and see things from their point of view, while imagining yourself in that position.  

  5. Problem-Solving: Problem-solving skills allow you to identify a problem, determine the cause of said problem, and identify and prioritize how to address the problem.  

  6. Collaboration: Collaboration skills allow you the ability to work together as a team/group to achieve common goals.  

Building an inclusive culture of engagement is a process that requires transparency, integrity, and a desire to develop your skills and the entire organization. The skills mentioned above will build off one another and as a leader, you’ll be prepared for any situation.  

Foster Power Skills in Your Organization

 There are several ways in which you can foster power skills for you, your leaders, or your entire organization. A couple common approaches include: 

  • L&D Programs designed around Power Skills: Allow opportunities for your leaders to build power skills. Consider trainings that focus on communication, collaboration, empathy, conflict management, and problem-solving.  

  • Create an open communication/feedback loop: Great leaders listen more than they talk and encourage dialogue.  As mentioned above, effective communication goes both ways. Encourage your employees to speak up, provide feedback, and ask questions.  

  • Encourage focused skill building: Instead of trying to master all of the power skills at once, just focus on 1 or 2 at a time to make them more absorbable and effective.  

If you’re on the lookout for new leaders, definitely consider hiring based off power skills. As I have always said, it’s important to lead from the top down. These traits will trickle down to your employees and hiring people with power skills can go a long way in fostering the organization as a whole.