by B. Leach | Oct. 17, 2022 | 5 Min Read

The importance of power skills (aka soft skills) for leaders


No matter what type of organization you work for, strong leadership driven by power skills in the workplace is critical. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that over 4.2 million workers left their jobs in the first month of 2022 alone—and studies show that leadership plays a significant part in an employee’s decision to leave:

  • One Gallup study found that 52% of employees who voluntarily left their roles said that their manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving.
  • Another Gallup Poll uncovered that in the three months leading up to resignation, more than half of employees who left their organizations never had a manager or other leader check in on their job satisfaction.

To retain employees and enhance employee satisfaction, strong leadership is non-negotiable. But what defines strong leadership? And what soft skills for leaders are most important?

Let’s review the importance of power skills (or soft skills) in the corporate world and how to advance soft skills in the workplace for leaders of all levels.

What are soft skills?

Most people are familiar with the term "hard skills." These are the technical abilities and knowledge required to do a job. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you need to deeply understand human anatomy and know how to perform various medical procedures.

In contrast, soft skills in management are the personal attributes that enable leaders to interact effectively with others. This includes everything from communication and problem-solving to emotional intelligence and teamwork.

While hard skills are important, hard skills alone are not enough to make someone a good leader. That's because guiding and motivating others is all about connecting with people, which requires a unique set of soft skills for leaders.

What are power skills?

“Power skills” is another term for soft skills first used by the U.S. Army in 1970. Many organizations prefer the term "power skills" over "soft skills" because the word “soft” underscores the value of these important skills.

Leaders who wish to be seen as trustworthy, innovative, and competent must develop soft skills (power skills) and other traits that set them and their teams up for success.

5 key soft skills leadership traits

While there are many different types of skills, some soft skills are more important for leaders than others. Here are some of the most critical soft skills leadership must possess.

1. Communication

Good communication is a key characteristic of effective leaders. Leaders must be able to communicate with clarity, whether writing, conversing, presenting, or facilitating. When leaders communicate well, they can align, instruct, and connect with team members authentically, not just with authority.

2. Active listening

Similar to communication, active listening is an essential power skill for leaders. Active listening involves not only hearing what someone is saying but understanding and acknowledging their perspective.

3. Flexibility

The business world is constantly changing, requiring leaders to adapt quickly. How we work, where we work, and when we work have evolved tremendously in the last few years. Flexible leaders respond well to high-stress situations, see change as an opportunity, and guide employees through it all.

4. Creative problem-solving

Complex problems require out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions that drive success. However, leaders don’t always solve everything themselves; they empower employees to join the conversation when a problem arises to develop a solution collaboratively.

5. Emotional Intelligence

One of the greatest differentiators of high performers is emotional intelligence. Competency research found that emotional intelligence was four times as important as hard skills in senior leadership positions. To learn how you can apply emotional intelligence skills within your team culture, read our blog: Empowering Teams: Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

The importance of soft skills in leadership

For leaders in any organization, learning to master soft skills is essential for success. By developing the key power skills listed above, leaders can:

  1. Foster a positive work culture: Evidence shows that a positive work culture boosts productivity, directly impacting a company’s bottom line. Leaders can foster a positive environment that team members want to be part of when they practice open and honest communication in the workplace.
  2. Improve employee retention: Leaders with strong interpersonal skills inspire loyalty in employees by personally connecting with them. Loyal employees are more likely to stay with an organization, be more productive, and generate greater success.
  3. Increase Skill Agility™: Leaders with effective power skills in the workplace can quickly pivot their teams when change is on the horizon. By fostering skill agility™ amongst employees, leaders can ensure their teams are ready for whatever comes their way.
  4. Create long-term success: A business is only as successful as its employees. When leaders develop power skills in the workplace, employees are more likely to experience long-term job success, which drives revenue.

Enhance soft skills in the workplace with Unboxed Training & Technology

Developing strong power skills in the workplace isn’t exclusively for leaders, but leaders that boast soft skills (power skills) are more effective. From communication to emotional intelligence, soft skills in management directly influence your organization’s success.

Are you ready to take your leaders to the next level? Partner with Unboxed Training & Technology to train your managers and leaders in the most important soft skills in the corporate world. Our custom management & leadership training solutions are:

  • Relevant to business goals
  • Emotionally compelling
  • Create consistent expectations
  • Accessible from anywhere

Request a demo of our custom management and leadership training programs to see how we can help your company increase growth, leader confidence, and employee retention.

More articles like this one