Soft skills that drive leadership success

January 11, 2023

When we think of a skilled individual, we often drum up the image of a web developer, a mechanical engineer, a brain surgeon, or even an arborist.

While the examples above depict hard skills, it’s the other side of the coin that cohesive work environments need to truly thrive—soft skills.

Workplace leaders need to harness their soft skills to delegate, anticipate behavioral conflicts between workers, communicate effectively, and grow themselves and their co-workers.

Let’s explore some of the key soft skills that create strong business leaders.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are a more diverse sort of skills that pertain mostly to interpersonal relationships. The context here surrounds business leadership, but we use soft skills daily in our relationships.

Typically, soft skills are more difficult to master[1] than hard skills because they are internal and reflect the individual’s attitudes, values, and moods.

Opposed to hard skills, which can be quantifiable, soft skills are harder to measure since it’s more of a subjective interpretation of quality through behavior and thinking.

For example, one’s ability to communicate clearly and concisely is a soft skill. One’s ability to edify and build others up verbally also is regarded as a soft skill. Having a strong sense of authentic self-esteem could be categorized as a soft skill.

The impact of soft skills in leadership

Leveraging soft skills effectively should be one of the most important priorities for a business leader.

Managers need to be able to read the room. They need to have the foresight to anticipate future issues, dilemmas, and conflicts.

They can do this by involving themselves in the day-to-day life of their co-workers in the workplace. Working alongside them can help managers understand the hurdles that workers face, enabling them to empathize.

Soft skills worth refining

Empathy can be one of the sharpest tools in a leader’s toolbelt. The ability to recognize the hardships and needs of others and then act upon them should never be undervalued. Leaders should strive to be more attuned to their worker’s feelings since their feelings often can drive their motivation and sense of belonging.

Communicating with employees and giving them the space to voice their concerns and desires can go a tremendously long way in building their confidence and loyalty, and they’ll come to respect you for it.

Recognizing good work when good work is done is another huge component. It’s not uncommon for leaders to feel apprehensive about thanking their workers for what they do since, “I’m paying them to be here.” But realizing that they have a choice in where they work for money shouldn’t be discounted, and you should reinforce in them their decision to work with you.

Then we have delegation. It might appear at first like a mundane and rational activity, but there is a lot more to it than that. Effective delegation of tasks and responsibilities requires you to know the abilities, strengths, and weaknesses of workers and give them the opportunities that are right for them. Part of delegation is knowing who not to give certain tasks to.

Responsible delegation combines workers’ preferences with identifying which workers are best suited for the task.

Relate and then lead

Remember, a successful leader will relate to their employees. Bring yourself down to their level and share in what they go through. It will not only motivate them to be better like you want them to be, but it will make them respect you more as well.

[1], 2022 (

Katie Brenneman

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

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