What Are Power Skills

The Importance of Power Skills for Project Managers

As new industries and technologies emerge, project management best practices and skills must continue to evolve and adapt. The PMI Talent Triangle was first introduced in 2015 to help project professionals succeed amidst these changes by teaching them the best ways to work. In the years since then, the triangle has continued to evolve along with the world of project management and recently adapted its three-domain approach to meet current business demands.

Notably, the triangle introduced three new areas of project management skills, including Power Skills. Power Skills, which was formerly the leadership discipline of the triangle, is all about the skills needed to lead, collaborate, and communicate with diverse stakeholders. With professional settings relying on technology and automation more than ever to complete work, it’s vitally important for project managers to hone their human-centered skills, such as communication, social and emotional intelligence, and critical thinking.

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What are Power Skills?

PMI Talent Triangle

Project management professionals are influencers, just not the kind you see on social media. They need to lead and motivate a team and influence stakeholders throughout the business (and sometimes beyond). The Power Skills domain focuses on the skills project managers need to guide their teams toward a collective goal. These skills, including communication, conflict management, and problem-solving, are often called “soft skills.” You’ve likely also heard them referred to as “people skills.” While both terms are accurate, neither quite capture just how important these capabilities are for project managers.

Power skills are essential for leaders at every level of an organization, especially in increasingly remote and hybrid work environments.

Project managers must be equipped with the expertise to move their team forward through effective decision-making, teamwork, negotiation, and other critical competencies. Power Skills take time, effort, and focus to master but are nevertheless essential to thrive as a leader in the dynamic and constantly changing modern workforce.

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13 Examples of Power Skills

Power Skills are the competencies that develop leadership style and how to direct, manage, and guide your team. Here are thirteen essential power skills that can help set you apart in the field of project management:

Leadership: Leadership skills include effective planning, task coordination, overseeing projects, motivating the project team, and making essential decisions to ensure project implementation.

Active Listening: Active listening refers to giving one’s full attention to the person speaking to better understand and comprehend their message. Active listening is a highly valuable communication skill that is essential for building stronger relationships at work.

Communication: Communication skills involve listening, speaking, observing, and empathizing. The four types of communication include verbal, non-verbal, written, and visual. Mastering each form is necessary to give and receive different types of information properly.

Adaptability: This skill is the ability to change your actions or strategy to accommodate a new situation. Adaptability often includes learning new skills and behaviors to succeed in varying circumstances.

Brainstorming: According to the PMBOK®, brainstorming is a “data gathering and creativity technique that can be used to identify risks, ideas, or solutions to issues by using a group of team members or subject-matter experts.”

Coaching and Mentoring: These skills are essential to being a leader, not just a manager. Coaching and mentoring are the acts of providing guidance to help someone achieve a goal and imparting advice, knowledge, and experience to help them learn.

Conflict Management: These abilities help you manage and resolve how conflict affects you and your team. Conflict management skills are focused on mitigating disruption caused by misunderstandings, disagreements, and other interpersonal tension.

Emotional Intelligence (EI): EI is the ability to understand, use, and manage your emotions as well as those around you. Having good emotional intelligence means being self-aware and having the capacity to self-manage. It also is the ability to empathize with others and understand their motivations, which is crucial in conflict management and negotiation.

Influencing: Influencing is the ability how you convince others to follow your recommendation, advice, or actions willingly. This skill is different from using your authority as someone’s superior and directing them to complete a task.

Interpersonal Skills: Honesty, transparency, charisma, and empathy are necessary for building and maintaining positive relationships with project team members. Interpersonal skills are how you build trust and keep everyone on track during a project.

Negotiation: Negotiation is back-and-forth communication to reach an agreement between you and one or more other parties. Negotiation is required when you need help to achieve your objectives.

Problem-Solving: This is the process of identifying a problem and determining a solution, often an alternative one, that can address the issue.

Teamwork: Teamwork is working collaboratively with a group of people to achieve a common goal.

Importance of Power Skills for Project Managers in 2023

Power skills are as critical as they’ve ever been in the workplace. They’re so important that research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center actually discovered that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from hard skills.

These qualities allow us to be effective, trusted managers even amid uncertainty and ambiguity. Managers with high emotional intelligence and excellent communication skills are best equipped to help their teams succeed. As technology and automation continue establishing more significant roles in the workplace, project managers that can successfully manage humans are valuable.

Hybrid work environments are changing how teams collaborate and interact. Project managers with Power Skills can ensure teams stay motivated and engaged, and follow project schedules, even with personnel spread across different workplaces.


Workplaces are changing quickly, and project managers that are equipped with Power Skills are best positioned to succeed. Understanding how to adapt to new technology and work styles is critical to building trust and maintaining productivity amongst your team. There’s little doubt that project professionals that exhibit Power Skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and communication are poised to stand out from their peers and demonstrate the most value in 2023 and beyond.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO