How ‘Power Skills’ Can Help Succeed In Workplace
The skills of the future will be a blend of technical and behavioural attributes and improving our power skills will help us unlock a better and powerful future
The approach towards employability is everchanging, especially now with a confluence of technology, digitalisation and a hybrid workplace. Several questions arise that require critical thinking and appropriate action - what do employers look for in a potential recruit? What are the skills required? Technical skills alone aren’t enough to build a successful career anymore, and a mix of technical and power skills will be instrumental in thriving in an agile workplace.
What are power skills?
Power skills are interpersonal skills that can help professionals maintain influence with a variety of stakeholders - a critical component for making change happen. Beyond traditional top-down leadership skills, power skills - sometimes known as soft skills, are critical in enabling professionals at every level to apply influence, inspire change and build relationships. However, referring to these associated skills as soft skills may discredit and undermine their importance. There is power in servant leadership and empathy.
The importance of power skills was especially highlighted during the pandemic-induced lockdown, which paved the way for remote and hybrid working. A recent, focussed report titled 'Assessment of General Skills Development Courses in India’ by Project Management Institute (PMI) in association with Aranca revealed that utilisation of upskilling programs for power skills lead to a significant improvement in employability metrics, ensuring employees become well-rounded professionals with collaborative leadership skills and an innovative mindset.
The need for power skills
As more and more work gets automated, the world is witnessing a technology-led transformation. There is a higher premium on an individual who possess power skills such as emotional intelligence, stakeholder management, resilience, collaboration, empathy in leadership, critical thinking, agility, decision making, and agile problem solving. While technical skills might help get the job done, individuals who adopt power skills as well turn out to have a relatively higher potential to grow in the organisation. The pandemic introduced a range of working patterns that remained foreign to employees as well as organisations. As employees were forced to find new ways to communicate with clients, managers and team members virtually, the ensuing situation created the need for heightened interpersonal skills and assertive leadership, while displaying greater compassion towards all stakeholders.
The report has also revealed the improvement in employability metrics in the recent past, with a majority of the students surveyed interested in pursuing short-duration self-paced courses on general skills, preferably from educational institutions. It is becoming evident to students and job seekers that honing these skills can make the individual an asset who can aid the organisation by creating trust and psychological safety within teams, while propelling their viability to the organisation and possibly advancing their own careers as well. Moreover, proficiency in power skills helps recruiters to comprehend that an individual possesses the necessary capabilities required to adapt swiftly to the evolving needs of organisations and tackle unprecedented situations efficiently, as well.
How India fares in the skilling game
India stands at a crossroads in this regard, with only 20 per cent of ~0.4 million engineering students graduating every year being seen as readily employable with the requisite soft and technical skills, as per a FICCI report. While industries across sectors continue to invest in developing these skills in their existing workforce through upskilling, we are also seeing various government initiatives at the state and central levels that have been focused on skilling initiatives, such as the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and programmes from Management, Entrepreneurship & Professional Skills Council (MEPSC) and the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC). These programmes offer individuals the opportunity to hone their soft skills, providing enough flexibility without compromising on the quality of the course. Learning and executing such power skills can be an important aspect of every individual’s professional growth and easily adds more substance to their resume.
The report further reveals that enrolment for skill development courses for students in India is estimated to touch over 400,000 annually, typically students still in college and those who have recently passed out. Additionally, there exists an annual enrolment potential of over 100,000 courses for employees who have already joined the workforce at an entry-level. Having said that roadblocks such as a lack of practical market exposure, low training capacity and non-recognition of informally acquired skills continue to prevent freshers from proactively upskilling in power skills.
The world around us is reflective of the onion analogy – the deeper we go, the more layers we find. Real change doesn’t happen without people — the future of organisations, industries and communities lies in our ability to collectively adapt, develop and reinvent. The skills of the future will be a blend of technical and behavioural attributes and improving our power skills will help us unlock a better and powerful future.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
Around The World