As tech evolves at full tilt, power skills are critical for IT leaders


Presented by Skillsoft

IT leaders need to be tech ninjas, but in today’s blazing-fast tech revolution, the key to conquering their careers lies in the power of soft skills. To learn about the right blend of tech and soft skills required to motivate teams, deliver business results and more, don’t miss this VB Spotlight.

Watch free on demand!

Power skills are the evolution of what we used to call soft skills, and they’re no longer a nice-to-have. They’re the non-technical abilities that help people make better decisions, be more flexible, resolve problems more effectively and communicate better with their teams, cross-functional peers and the C-suite. Reframing them as “power skills” helps emphasize how critical they are to a business leader’s development and career trajectory — even if their role requires significant technical expertise.

“Oftentimes the power skills are the secret sauce that can make or break a team’s ability to be effective and a leader’s ability to move the organization and teams to affect those types of organizational changes and business outcomes that are especially critical in a competitive market like today,” explains Koma Gandy, VP of leadership and business portfolio at Skillsoft.

How power skills impact organizational goals

Complex social interactions are part of the workplace, so power skills like empathy, negotiation and effective communication become critical, rather than supplementary, adds Okey Obudulu, CISO, Skillsoft. Today they’re both required and expected for professional growth and organizational success.

For instance, the security team has to interact across all levels of the organization, all the way up to the C-suite and the board, as well as externally (for example, with auditors) to effectively deliver on its security program. And as part of all that, team members need to bring those power skills to bear, to have fruitful conversations that help achieve security aims while also maintaining the cordial working relationships that are important for ongoing success and satisfaction.

“We cannot work in isolation of the realities of the organization, its goals and what folks across the company are looking to achieve,” Obudulu says. “And by us bringing some of these power skills to bear as we interact, we help the organization and folks within the organization better deepen that security culture, because with that deepened security culture comes an improved security posture for the organization.”

It becomes really important that CISOs continue to improve the effectiveness of their communication, and tailor communication strategies to effectively reach these diverse audiences, recognizing that this is an ongoing area of skill enhancement and improvement.

The top skills for every technical leader

In every interaction with teams across the organization, IT leaders need to consider how each prefers to be approached, how information should be packaged and delivered to make the most sense for every audience. That means empathy needs to be a foundational skill.

Empathy is one of those very important skills we have to bring as part of our day-to-day,” Obudul explains. “So as a security leader, I’m trying to understand from the folks I’m communicating with what their pain points are, and I think I get to be a more effective security leader.”

Users often see security controls as roadblocks to getting their job done, for example. Empathetic leaders consider the impact their security strategies have and take this into account to find the least disruptive solutions.

“To the extent we implement controls that we’ve not carefully talked through, that may be overbearing and in some situations may not be needed, without that empathy skill being brought to bear, we don’t think of those things and I think we are less effective as security professionals,” he adds.

As part of that empathetic perspective, creative thinking is another critical power skill. Not only does it help leaders creatively solve problems, it also enables them to foster an inclusive environment where people feel like they can contribute, whatever their role.

Gandy also points out that large think tanks like the World Economic Forum often talk about the major job skills that will be required in the workplace of the future, and the majority of them are power skills like analytical thinking, innovation, problem-solving, leadership and influence and so on.

“The things that really boil down to making or breaking teams’ effectiveness have to do with those power skills and recognizing that the workplace that we entered 10 years ago, the workplace of five years ago, is not the workplace we’re in today,” she says. “In terms of proximity, geography, hybrid versus in-person, intergenerational, folks that remember the beginning of the internet versus people who have never known a world without a mobile phone or social media — how do you bring all those people together to problem solve where everyone feels like they’re included, that their individual talents and individual things they bring to the table are valued in a way that creates high-performing teams when you’re dealing with so many factors?”

Developing power-ful skills

These skills are critical, Gandy adds — but they’re also teachable, and can be practiced until they become inherent.

“That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about it being an ongoing process rather than a static point in time,” she says. “And just because you’re a really great communicator in an in-person world where everybody that you worked with was within arms’ length, that is not where we are today, and communication is totally different. And it’s okay that you’re evolving just as long as you keep evolving. That’s really the key.”

An essential part of this evolution is both receiving and offering mentoring and feedback, she says. Every leader requires feedback as they grow. Plus it’s crucial to develop and flex that muscle, because the more senior they become in the organization, the more impact their words have. Mentorship is also a two-way street.

“Seeking out trusted people whose advice you feel is good and also forces you to do a little introspection, you might get a little uncomfortable, but that’s good, that’s part of the growing process,” she says. “Ask that mentor: What are some resources where you feel like you’re getting value out of the minutes that you’re spending, and it helps you on the way to where you need to go?”

AI and the future of power skills

As AI becomes increasingly ubiquitous across organizations, IT leaders have a particularly important role in ushering employees into the future of work and the formation of power skills.

“One place where IT leaders can help is recognizing that throughout the organization, people will have varying degrees of experience with and enthusiasm for these new technologies because people are caught between fear and fascination depending upon where you are in the organization, what your comfort is with technology, where you are in terms of your functional roles,” she says. “IT leaders can play a critical role in helping folks along that fear and fascination spectrum, embrace and lean into opportunities to learn and to grow and to ask questions. They can be ambassadors within the organization to help people learn and help people be more effective at their jobs since a lot of these power skills will inevitably be touched by or changed by the proliferation of rapidly changing tech.”

For more on the ways AI is impacting how power skills are developed, real-world examples of power skill effectiveness and more, don’t miss this VB Spotlight!

Watch free on demand!


  • How cultivating power skills can empower IT leaders to navigate complex tech challenges
  • Which skills enhance leadership effectiveness as well as collaboration, adaptability and strategic decision-making
  • Actionable AI-fueled strategies for developing power skills across the organization


  • Okey Obudulu, CISO, Skillsoft
  • Koma Gandy, VP of Leadership & Business Portfolio, Skillsoft
  • Elisabeth Hendrickson, Moderator, VentureBeat

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