What Are Power Skills?
People often refer to interpersonal or “people skills” as “soft skills” because they view them in opposition to “hard skills,” which are the technical or job-specific expertise you need to perform a specific role in a specific industry. Another way to think of it is “hard skills” refer to a person’s ability to do a specific task, while "soft skills,” or as we prefer to call them, “power skills,” refer to how a person problem solves, collaborates, communicates, and makes decisions.
“‘Soft’ sounds weak, or somehow less important than ‘hard’ or technical skills. That’s completely wrong, We refer to them as ‘power skills,’ because, without them, people’s technical skills aren’t running on all cylinders.” - Heide Abelli | SVP of Product Development at Skillsoft.
Although technical skills are important, power skills are equally important, and in some cases maybe more important, to business success.
What are some examples of power skills (i.e., soft skills)?
A few power skills that are important to running a business are:
Communication – Clear and effective oral, written, and visual communication skills will help you sell your product, pitch your business, and recruit and lead a team. Effective listening skills are also key!
Courtesy – Meeting people with respect and gratitude will make people more likely to buy from you, invest in you, and want to work with you. Saying “please” and “thank you” are simple habits that will take you far.
Adaptability – The ability to embrace change and stay open to new things or new ways of doing things are important to success in any area, but especially when running a business.
Positive attitude – We all have our bad days, but remaining enthusiastic, encouraging, and confident, will help others believe in you and your business.
Responsibility – When you start a business, things will go wrong from time to time, and when they do it doesn’t do any good to try to blame someone else. At the end of the day, it’s your business and you are responsible for the failures as well as the successes. Business leaders who are accountable, reliable, and respond to challenges with resourcefulness and a desire to get the job done will find more success in the long run than those who look for excuses or scapegoats.
Teamwork – Even if you are a “solopreneur,” the ability to work well with others is essential. Nobody does it alone. At some point you’ll need to work with a mentor, a vendor, or a client to get something done, so if it doesn’t come naturally, you can learn to be supportive, helpful, and collaborative by practicing collaborating with others.
Consistency - People like to know what to expect when the work with, invest in, or buy from someone. As you start to build your business, you’ll want to think about how your values and voice are represented in your business and your actions. You’ll also want to make sure your personal brand expresses what you want it to.
What is the most important power skill to hone?
According to a study from Udemy, having a growth mindset is the most important power skill for career success, and it’s also pretty important for entrepreneurial success. In fact, it’s part of our entrepreneurial philosophy. Growth mindset refers to the idea that our skills and abilities are not set in stone. If we believe we can learn and improve a skill, we’ll put in more effort, and learning combined with effort will lead to higher achievement.
While they may not use these words to explain it, most successful entrepreneurs possess a growth mindset. They are lifelong learner, remaining “teachable” and open to feedback whether the lesson is coming from a book, a mentor, a failure, or a customer. They also know that knowledge isn’t enough. You have to put in the time and effort to improve at anything, including building a business. Being an entrepreneur is something you are, it’s a skill you practice and get better at.