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The Evolution of Soft Skills to PowerSkills

February 28, 2022 3 Min Read Article, Talent Advisory
Bobbi D. Kelly, PHR, SHRM-CP
Bobbi D. Kelly, PHR, SHRM-CP Director-in-Charge, Talent Advisory

I recently had the opportunity to hear Josh Bersin, world-renowned thought leader in the human resources industry and prolific people-data analyst, speak at the Philadelphia Society of People and Strategy’s thought leadership event. Josh outlined some of his 2022 HR Predictions, including the growth of our economy in a constrained labor force, the impact of the Metaverse on business, and the evolution of hybrid work.

While his predictions were interesting, there was one that really stood out to me. Josh spoke about the critical nature of “PowerSkills,”especially in a post-pandemic workforce. He defines PowerSkills as “teaching people how to lead, work in teams, collaborate, communicate, tell stories, and think strategically.”

The concept of PowerSkills may sound similar to what we typically think of as soft skills, which is what stopped me in my tracks. I wondered whether this was just a clever repackaging of an old concept. So, I asked a few of my colleagues to define some critical “soft skills” needed in business. They listed skills like accountability, critical thinking, good listening, clear communication, and teamwork.

The skills that Josh categorized as PowerSkills didn’t sound anything like that. The descriptors he used – empathy, forgiveness, curiosity, humility, joy, patience – are not words we generally use at work. These are skills we teach our children, we expect out of our partners, and we hope friends use to describe us.

So, what is the disconnect? Are we expected to check our “human-ness” at the door when we show up to work? The short answer: maybe.

The more I think of the concept of a human-centered culture, the more I realize there is a direct correlation to businesses trying to navigate the Great Resignation. Companies that prioritize and value the PowerSkills Josh described often find themselves with a team that naturally embodies “traditional” soft skills like problem solving, delegation, and strong work ethic. If you have curiosity, you likely will excel in problem solving. If you have patience, you likely will naturally delegate. If you see joy in what you are working on, your work ethic will shine.

I am excited to see where this concept of PowerSkills takes us. Viewing our employees as humans first, designing interview processes around the person rather than the position, and leveraging skills that ignite rather than burn out could mean the difference between a job and a passion, between retaining your top talent and losing them, and between being a good company and an outstanding one.

Contact Bobbi Kelly, Director-in-Charge of Kreischer Miller’s Talent Advisory practice, at Email for a conversation about how we can help you determine the way forward for your company’s talent strategy.

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Bobbi D. Kelly, PHR, SHRM-CP

Bobbi D. Kelly, PHR, SHRM-CP

Director-in-Charge, Talent Advisory

Talent Advisory Specialist

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