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Soft Skills? No, they’re Power Skills

It’s time soft skills got a rebrand. Discover why soft skills are actually power skills.

Helen Marshall Chief Learning Officer

A Rubix cube resting on an old book

What is meant by soft skills?

Soft skills are defined as behavioural traits and personal skills that affect or enhance our relationships with others. Soft skills are incredibly important within the workplace, facilitating communication and collaboration and increasing productivity. Soft skills are more about who a person is, rather than what they know. Soft skills are often mentioned in the same scope as hard skills, and as a result are seen as polar opposites. Hard skills refer to technical skills like computing skills, academic qualifications and coding. It is important for all employees to have a mix of soft skills and hard skills to reach their full potential, but traditionally hard skills are seen as more sought after, and are testable to ascertain competency, unlike soft skills, which are much harder to quantify.

Soft skills examples

  • Communication
  • Time management
  • Workload management
  • Organisational skills
  • Creativity
  • Leadership
  • Conflict resolution
  • Self awareness
  • Critical thinking
  • Planning skills

Soft vs hard skills

Soft skills

Hard skills

Who the person is

What they know

How they interact with others

Usually self-focused, and how they can complete tasks by themselves

Can be used in any job role

Specific to industry

Innately present but can be enhanced and improved upon with practice and experience

Usually gained through education or training

Hard to learn as there is no roadmap

Accreditations and education opportunities make the learning process simpler

Why soft skills should be considered power skills

The problem with the traditional way of looking at “soft vs hard skills” is that it tends to lead to soft skills being undervalued for the more tangible hard skills. In fact, if you spend time investing in yourself and how you interact and communicate with others you actually power up all your skills. Essentially, without soft skills, hard skills will only get you so far.  They’re power skills because they provide you with the boost you need to create a more rounded skill set for yourself. 

Because of this, employers should focus on hiring for power skills, as they are more evergreen than hard skills, and the effort involved in developing them can be testament to the character of the individual being hired. The trick is being able to spot an individual’s power skill potential, too. As skills change more and more over time, power skills like communication, flexible thinking, and other leadership skills will always be invaluable to any organisation.

How to improve the power skills in your organisation

Despite them being hard to work on, it’s not impossible to cultivate your organisation’s power skills. There are some core steps to take to take your team’s power skills to the next level:

  • Identify what power skills you are weakest in
  • Highlight power skill content or training gaps
  • Create meaningful content and experiences around power skills
  • Facilitate mentorship between individuals high in power skills and others (especially those not in their team)
  • Start tracking power skill progression and set tangible goals around power skills
  • Adopt a growth mindset, and actively encourage employee engagement.
  • Invest in tech that allows you to level up skills.

If you’re interested in a platform or content that can help you identify, track and level up power skills, get in touch with our friendly team to discuss how THRIVE Learning & Skills Platform and Content Club can help you create a one-stop shop for learning that will revolutionise L&D in your organisation.

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