The most requested power skills in an uncertain COVID workplace

  • Marti Konstant

    Marti Konstant

Konstant Change
Updated 11/11/2020 2:49 PM

As the workplace adapts to the complexity of the pandemic-impacted workplace, leaders, employees, consultants and business partners look to upgrade their skills to stay relevant.

Like computer software, humans benefit from consistent upgrades to their specialized behavioral talents, also known as power skills.


Not familiar with power skills? They are referred to as soft skills, transferable skills and people skills, among others. According to Personnel Today, "These skills don't relate to what work you do, but how you work."

They reflect how you interact with others to get your work done, enabling you to navigate uncertainty and workplace politics.

Technical skills demonstrate what you do, and power skills demonstrate how you work.

What power skills are needed now?

Pre-COVID studies lacked the preferred behavioral traits for remote and frontline workers in our now normal.

Our current Insights capture the pandemic effect. We cross-referenced multiple studies, comparing them to recent articles from subject matter experts. Topics included how the pandemic influenced hiring managers' preferences for most needed skills.

The analysis incorporated content from: Deloitte, LinkedIn, IBM Institute for Business Value, Indeed, Institute for the Future (IFTF), McKinsey, Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), Udemy, Willis Towers Watson and World Economic Forum. The research also blended insights from thought leaders like Josh Bersin, Bernard Marr and Meghan Biro.

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In addition, the power skills ranking was informed by disruptive trends like public health concerns, social unrest and economic uncertainty. Here are the results: emotional intelligence, communication, adaptability, creativity, collaboration, leadership and time management.

Compare this to last year's top five ranking by LinkedIn: creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence. Creativity dominated due to emphasis on innovation and skills that are not impacted by automation trends.

Let's review how disruption and uncertainty have contributed to the remix of management priorities.

Emotional intelligence, adaptability, and communication lead the way.

The most significant shift in the rankings is emotional intelligence's (EQ) movement to the top. According to Daniel Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence, EQ includes the following elements: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.


A great example of a leader who exemplifies this super skill is Satya Nadella of Microsoft. He is known for his emotional and authentic manner, a leadership style engendering trust and contributing to a positive corporate culture.

A recent CEO of the Future report by Korn Ferry indicates the pandemic is causing many CEOs to shift their leadership style to include authenticity and self-awareness, aspects of EQ.

There is also a rise in the rankings for communication and adaptability. Trends like remote work and persistent uncertainty created demand for these valuable traits.

Here are the top seven power skills:

1. Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense what is going on with others, making it easier to collaborate with and lead people.

2. Communication is active listening, translating and interpreting what is being said, and expressing concepts and directions in understandable language.

3. Adaptability is how well a person responds to change and their ability to pivot and flourish in an environment of fast and continuous change.

4. Creativity is expressed via ideas, noticing patterns and connecting the dots to design inventive solutions. Creativity contributes to the seeds of innovation.

5. Collaboration happens when people work together toward a common goal, prioritizing the accomplishments of the team ahead of individual focus.

6. Leadership is the ability to lead, influence or guide individuals, teams or organizations. A leader sets strategy to accomplish tasks, build a company, or move toward a common goal.

7. Time management refers to efficient time allocation, the workplace's precious commodity.

Key conclusion: Cultivating power skills in this time of disruption and change will increase employee value and future-proof your value in the workplace.

• Marti Konstant is a workplace futurist and the best-selling author of Activate Your Agile Career. Learn more about her book, workshops, and speaking engagements on the topics of career and workforce agility at

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