Why Leadership Soft Skills Are Important

Published: one year ago, Last Updated: 6 months ago
Daniel Brown
Writer: Daniel Brown
Listen minutes

Successful leaders rely on various soft skills that they have sharply honed to improve their chances of developing a successful career. This is because soft skills are heavily linked to their responsibilities in building trusting relationships within their teams and empowering their colleagues. 

Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Center discovered that having advanced soft skills accounts for 85% of career success, whereas hard skills only make up 15% of career success. Keep reading to understand and improve your soft skills for leadership roles.

Soft Skills Versus Hard Skills

For professional success in leadership, soft and hard skills are required both. So, let’s break down the meaning behind each term.

Soft skills are personality traits needed to form strong connections with your team members. Examples include: 

  • Active listening
  • Acknowledging the worries and suggestions of your team
  • Empathy for your team’s feelings concerning their workload and working conditions

Hard skills are job-specific, measurable skill sets and technical proficiencies. They are often taught over time through training materials in school or on the job. Examples of hard skills include graphic design, software development, copywriting, video editing, and foreign language proficiency.

In summary, soft skills help individuals cope and react to situations, whereas hard skills for management are necessary to perform a job adequately. Therefore, a mix of hard and soft skills is essential for all leadership roles.

How to Develop Soft Skills

There are multiple ways you can develop your soft management skills, which will help your ability to work within a team, positively influence others, and further your career.

Manager studying

Here are six steps to consider: 

  1. Establish your career goals to better select the skills which need improvement. Each person is unique in their skills and improvement needs. Identifying yours is the first step in professional development and can help you make well-informed decisions regarding your career. Typically, leaders lack communication, time management, and organizational skills.
  1. Get expert help to guide you and help you advance your talents. An expert can offer suggestions and constructive criticism to help you develop your soft leadership skills. As a result, you will improve your ability to work with others, which can positively influence your career. For example, you may engage in hypotheticals with a career coach to test your leadership soft skills. Based on these interactions, you can receive feedback regarding your communication, organizational, time management, teamwork, and collaboration skills.
  1. Read books on various leadership theories to develop soft leadership skills like Likert’s Behavioral Theory of Leadership, Fiedler’s Situational theory of Leadership, Traits Approach, and Bass’s Motivational theory of Leadership.
  1. Put time, effort, and dedication each day into developing your soft skills. Adopt new habits in your daily life that flex unused muscles that improve weaker skills.  For example, if you aim to improve your communication skills, you could practice being more mindful of nonverbal communication, like facial expressions and bodily gestures. Similarly, you can also practice active listening by reiterating to the speaker their main points via email. 
  1. Join a local, state, national, or international association to connect with professionals in your field and hone your abilities in a group setting. For example, soft skills that can be improved in a group setting include communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and organizational skills. You may also gain access to resources like magazines and other publications that can offer helpful information about your industry.
  1. Enroll in a certification course by signing up for leadership and management courses online. Also, consider earning a professional degree by enrolling in online courses.
  2. Some beneficial online programs include “Think Like a Leader with Brian Tracy” on Udemy, “Agile Leadership Principles and Practices” on edX, and “Building Your Leadership Skills” on Coursera.

    Soft skill courses are also helpful in providing action-based solutions for improving an office environment, so walking in with certification in such fields can help promote a stronger team. 

Types of Soft Skills for Successful Management

Soft skills are essential in any role – especially in managerial positions. Here are 15 soft leadership skills that will have a positive influence on your workplace, colleagues, and career:


Successful leaders rely on their communication skills to correspond with others in writing, have practical discussions, and interpret nonverbal cues. Those skills also make them active listeners who are open to feedback and accepting of their team’s perspective.

Interpersonal Skills and Emotional Intelligence

People with strong interpersonal skills build compatible relationships with their colleagues. A leader’s ability to navigate social interactions with their teams while being aware of their team’s thoughts and feelings can also increase employee satisfaction, motivation, and collaboration. 

At the same time, leaders must also be able to identify and resolve internal conflicts to ensure a healthy working environment.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Encouraging teamwork and leaving communication channels open for all voices to be heard is one of the most effective ways to retain top-performing employees and attract top talent to your company. 

Collaborative team meeting

In addition, inviting collaboration across departments and employees can also improve the function of an organization by breaking down hierarchies and opening avenues to contribute positively towards shared goals. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work.

Motivational and Mentoring Skills

A leader’s ability to motivate and inspire others is vital to success. Through their attitude, leaders who successfully convey their passion to their teams can increase employee morale, productivity, and overall performance. Successful leaders can also train new employees, mentor them, and support their development in the workplace.

Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills

Leading a team requires analyzing and evaluating operations, finding solutions to various problems, and making concrete decisions and action plans to solve them. Hence, leaders count on their analytical and problem-solving skills to identify the issue, implement a team-based solution, and evaluate the outcome. 

Decision-Making Skills

Decision-making allows leaders to make timely and informed decisions while considering all perspectives. This will enable them to choose the best course of action and understand the company’s current state while preventing conflict in the workplace.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict in the workplace can sometimes be inevitable. For that reason, leaders must develop conflict resolution strategies to rectify the problem, actively listen to their colleague’s points of view, remain impartial, and identify a solution.


Skilled leaders must be empathetic to understand and share the feelings of their teammates. Compassionate leaders can foster positive work relationships, develop trust, and encourage peers to offer suggestions. Empathy can also inspire and improve your relationship with your colleagues, especially when they know their well-being is valued.  

Confidence and Humility

A confident manager leads by example and respects every member of the team. However, confident leaders also aren’t afraid to admit their mistakes. 

Therefore, they must also embody humility to accept feedback and improve themselves. As a result, confident and humble leaders inspire trust, respect, and growth among team members. 

Integrity and Honesty

Leaders with integrity are honest, trustworthy, and reliable. They are fully aware that their actions, words, and decisions affect others and shape the company’s environment. Hence, they act ethically and morally, have good intentions, and strive to become role models. 

In addition, honest leaders are open and transparent with their teams and own up to their mistakes instead of hiding them, making excuses, or blaming others. These attributes, in return, help build trust.

Time Management

Highly effective leaders know the importance of managing their time for themselves and their teams. This means proactively planning time to support their teams through emails and meeting requests. 

Manager reviewing calendar

Mastering time management skills will help leaders meet deadlines, improve efficiency and productivity, and deliver better work. It can also help with managing stress and improving staff retention.

Delegating Tasks

Delegating tasks to team members is something most leaders do every day in their roles. When allocating tasks, leaders must identify the member best suited to tackle a specific project. In other words, they must be aware of each team member’s interests, skills, and capabilities, as well as have the respect of their team to harbor trust.

Organizational Skills

A well-organized leader knows how to manage their time, energy, and workspace to accomplish tasks. Implementing organizational skills also helps avoid confusion and misunderstanding between team members and maintains consistent workflow in the office. In addition, it makes it easier for the team to manage each other’s tasks in case of absence, emergency, or need. 


Creative leaders can come up with unique solutions to the challenges they encounter. This capability to solve problems innovatively contributes to a more efficiently run business. In addition, business growth often depends on leaders’ creativity to implement strategies that help their organizations achieve goals.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Change is inevitable, so a leader’s ability to be flexible in their roles and adapt to new situations in the workplace is critical for the team’s growth and development. 

At the same time, influential leaders support their teammates during change and initiate team collaboration to ensure proper communication through operational changes. With adaptable groups and individuals, you’ll be able to perform well and maintain a healthy work environment, even during challenging times. 


Taking the time to develop soft leadership skills is essential for anyone looking to improve their career trajectory. Mastering those soft skills will help you effectively communicate with your team members, improve decision-making, maintain an organized team, and increase productivity and performance.

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