by E. Flanagan | April 4, 2022 | 5 Min Read

Effective soft skills (or should we say “power skills”) explained

employees in a soft skills training seminar.jpg

What are “power skills”?

Are they different than soft skills, hard skills, or technical skills?

Is it necessary for my team to have power skills?

In the past, hard skills were the main (and sometimes only!) way hiring managers evaluated potential employees. If a potential employee had the right degree, experience, certifications, etc., then they were often good enough for the job.

However, companies now know there’s value in recruiting and hiring employees with highly developed soft skills, along with tangible hard and technical skills. Just because someone is a technical expert, doesn’t mean they’ll work effectively with your team or your customers.

The good news is that soft skills, or should we say “power skills” (a soft skills synonym), are transferable across all positions and in all industries. If you’re a manager, director, or company executive looking to upskill your team for success, developing and strengthening their soft skills is a great place to start.

So, do you want to learn more about soft skills and their importance in the workplace?

Today, we’re diving into the world of soft skills (aka power skills). We’ll discuss topics and answer questions like:

Power skills have a huge effect on company culture and overall company success, especially in sales and customer service. Join us as we explore this topic in more detail.

What are soft skills vs. hard skills?

So, what exactly are soft skills? And, how do they differ from hard or technical skills?

Here’s a quick rundown of hard skills vs. soft skills to help you understand the difference between the two.

Hard skills

Hard skills are the technical capabilities that apply to a specific industry or essential job function.

Some examples of hard skills are:

  • Programming languages (such as Python, Ruby, and Java)
  • Typing speed
  • Storage systems and database coding
  • Mobile app development
  • Marketing using SEO and SEM
  • Language skills, like being bilingual or multilingual
  • Statistical analysis
  • Photo editing and graphic design

Hard skills can be taught and learned, typically from education and/or on-the-job training.

Soft skills

On the other hand, soft skills are essential to professional success across all industries, job functions, and organizational levels. They’re the “intangible” skills that make someone an effective employee.

According to Indeed, some of the most sought-after and effective soft skills include:

  • Time management
  • Effective communication
  • Dependability and integrity
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Openness, willingness, and adaptability
  • Organization
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration and teamwork

Soft skills can be a little more challenging to learn since they require a high level of self-awareness and interpersonal intelligence.

But that doesn’t mean that soft skills can’t be taught or learned.

In fact, the best way to grow in soft skills and add new ones to your repertoire is to actively practice them. As a leader in the organization, you have the opportunity to help develop your employees develop in these skills.

Why soft skills are now called power skills

Recently, another word for soft skills has been becoming increasingly popular: power skills.

Josh Bersin, an influential thought leader within the sales industry, is part of a movement to redefine the term "soft skills". Instead, he prefers to use the term “power skills” as a soft skills synonym.

Josh argues that we’ve been looking at hard vs. soft skills wrong for years. He says (from the article linked above), “Hard Skills are soft (they change all the time, are constantly being obsoleted, and are relatively easy to learn), and Soft Skills are hard (they are difficult to build, critical, and take extreme effort to obtain)” and “...that we should rename ‘soft skills’ to ‘power skills,’ because in reality, they are the skills that give you real ‘power’ at work.”

His main point is that power skills (soft skills) are what makes someone a truly effective employee. You can always go learn a new skill relatively easily, but power skills take time and concerted effort to master. But once you have these skills, you become increasingly valuable in your workplace, industry, and places of influence.

(You’ll notice throughout the rest of this article soft skills are now called power skills because we agree the word “soft” does not do justice to the importance of these skills.)

What are power skills exactly?

In reality, power skills are highly complex, can take years to learn, and are always changing in scope. Essentially, these traits give you power and influence at your job and within your industry.

According to Bersin, the number one skill that CEOs ask for is “a willingness to be flexible, agile, and adaptable to change.” Now, that’s a skill that doesn’t come easily or naturally to many people.

However, over time, these skills can be learned.

Power skills are the most important skills an individual can possess, and employers have to realize that these traits need to be built upon, nourished, and continually evolved for ultimate success.

The benefits of power skills explained

Power skills are most beneficial to companies and businesses when they’re prioritized on a company-wide basis. Though they’re critical for salespeople and customer service reps, they can’t be ignored for other positions.

When you emphasize the importance of skill-building and invest in upskilling for power skills, you’ll see benefits like:

  • Higher productivity and output
  • Better teamwork
  • More momentum to achieve common goals and objectives
  • Enhanced collaboration within teams and across departments
  • Higher employee morale and job satisfaction
  • Improved skill agility

Upskilling your team members and focusing on power skills is just as, if not more important than, leveling up your team’s hard skills. As their employer, you’re tasked with ensuring your team members are always learning and growing. A focus on professional development not only adds to your employees’ skill sets, but it also improves your company’s bottom line.

So, now you know more about soft skills, why they’ve recently been called power skills, and the benefits they can bring to your organization. But what’s the practical importance of power skills in the workplace?

The practical importance of power skills in the workplace

You may not realize it, but hiring and working with employees who have power skills can make a huge difference in your teams and overall organization.

Here’s an example:

Suppose you have two potential employees with the same hard skills. One of them is consistently late to meetings, misses deadlines, regularly miscommunicates, and doesn’t take feedback well. The other one has a track record of getting jobs done on time, communicating well with clients and coworkers, coaching and leading other employees, and regularly asking for feedback.

Which employee would you rather hire and have on your team?

Hopefully, you’d choose the candidate with proven power skills. This candidate’s power skills will make them a great co-worker and employee. They’ll bring great value to whatever team they’re on and will help elevate the company’s overall work culture.

Bringing in someone without proven power skills can lead to toxic work culture, frustrated employees, and unhappy customers/clients. But with effective soft skills or power skills training in place, the opposite can become the reality.

Power up your organization with Unboxed

In this article, we outlined:

  • What are soft skills
  • What are power skills (another word for soft skills)
  • Why soft skills are called power skills
  • The benefits of effective soft skills in the workplace
  • The practicality of power skills

We also mentioned frequently in this article that power skills can be taught and learned. So, it’s up to those in leadership positions to recognize skills gaps and provide appropriate training and upskilling opportunities.

When you invest in upskilling employees and provide them with ongoing training, your company can expect to:

  • Strengthen its reputation and bottom line
  • Enhance organization productivity
  • See higher employee retention rates and satisfaction scores
  • Expand its industry expertise and authority

Developing power skills isn’t easy, and it takes an investment on the employer’s part, but it’s the key to the successful future of your employees and company. Continuous upskilling and training are vital for retaining your employees and ensuring they’re always prepared to do the best job possible.

Want to upskill your team’s power skills but unsure how to do it?

At Unboxed Training & Technology, we make the process of upskilling and training simple. With strategic tools and custom or off-the-shelf training, we help empower your employees and propel your entire company forward. Whether you’re looking for a power skills, sales, onboarding, or customer service training program, we’ve got you covered.

Contact us today to power up your organization and the skill sets of your teams.

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