21 Soft Skills for Leadership Success

It’s no secret that soft skills are anything but “soft” in today’s business world. Soft skills include the array of intangible skills employees possess that inform how they do and understand their jobs. Without them, businesses would crumble, because people would have a hard time working together and understanding the purpose behind their roles.

It’s especially important for leaders to have sharply honed soft skills, because their roles require them to work with many different people in various capacities. Leaders need to be able to inspire, influence, direct and motivate. This blog explores the ways soft skills benefit leaders and which skills are most essential in order for them to execute these functions well.

To put it frankly, a leader probably won’t last long in their role if they aren’t actively and continually working on developing their leadership soft skills. The job market only continues to get more competitive, and the most attractive employees are currently those with strong interpersonal skills, and knowledge of how to build employee morale through actions and words.

We’ve gone over some of the main categories of soft skills that are important along with why it’s crucial for managers to develop strong leadership soft skills, but you may be wondering how you could possibly even begin working on soft skills, with so many important facets of developing this side of your leadership abilities. We’ve identified five of the most powerful soft skills based on current trends and research that will give you a targeted place to start.

It’s not enough to just be creative or have a few tried and true problem-solving routines that worked well in the past. A truly outstanding leader will be able to combine their creativity and their problem-solving acumen to stand out. Being able to lean on transparency, strategic vision and open-minded styles of approaching conflict helps management remain reliable and competent in times of crisis and/or change.

With all the uncertainty over the past year, organizations that didn’t have teams of adaptable and flexible leaders either fell apart or suffered losses. Even before the pandemic, with the rapid rise of technological advancements in the business world, those who weren’t constantly practicing new ways to remain adaptable and flexible in the face of unexpected changes quickly fell behind.

Adaptability is widely regarded as one of the primary competitive advantages for leaders, and it includes being able to ask timely and novel questions about how current systems are running and will continue to run in the face of change. Those who are adaptable respond quickly to the first detection of change. Flexibility ties in with adaptability as the ability to see alternate paths forward in the face of a challenge. Together, this creates a dynamic soft skill that is absolutely essential for today’s leaders.

Having a high emotional intelligence means that an individual is able to name and understand complex emotions both within themselves and their peers. It also helps leaders motivate their teams, support them in both challenging and uplifting situations, guide employees to make choices that protect their health and wellness, protect their own boundaries, and keep themselves balanced mentally and emotionally so that they can continue to show up as the best versions of themselves.

Being able to connect with people in a way that encourages feedback and active participation is not an inherent skill that many people possess. However, it can be worked on. Sharing responsibilities, ideas, brainstorming experiences and creating a positive company culture can have a much further reach in the business world than many leaders expect.

Working as a team in a way that leaves communication channels open for all voices to be heard is rare in the corporate world, so organizations that are known for doing this well attract top talent and are able to retain top-performing employees. Collaboration of leaders across departments can improve overall functioning of a business, and leaders knowing how to invite collaboration amongst employees in a way that breaks down hierarchies opens up avenues for the truly creative employees, regardless of position, to contribute positively towards shared goals.

Collaboration is best enhanced when leaders model positive and effective channels of communication and feedback. Allow your direct reports to share feedback openly and honestly with you, and they’ll be more accepting when you provide feedback for them. This will carry into the organization at large as people naturally use great collaborative skills with one another thanks to your effective modeling.

Leaders who have strong soft skills but who don’t understand the power of storytelling to enhance these skills will miss out on opportunities to connect with peers, clients, business connections, etc. Storytelling can be a great way to engage people in a way that invites ease of communication. Done skillfully, storytelling helps managers to be more effective with persuasion, influence, establishing strong connections and enhancing empathy.

If you’re wondering how to bring storytelling into your current role more deliberately, start by working it into small talk. Strategically tell a peer about your weekend activities and how you learned something from what you did that will help you at work. The more natural this becomes for you, the more you can work this into how to communicate about what you do at work and how that informs your future projects.

The most important thing to keep in mind when thinking about leadership soft skills is that none of us were born knowing how to do any of these things. If you are someone who is not naturally skilled in some of these areas, keep in mind that, like any other skill, soft skills can be practiced and honed with hard work and dedication. A

All leaders should continue to work on developing a strong arsenal of soft skills. You probably learned how to ride a bike, throw a football, etc. and got better at those things with time. The same is true for your leadership abilities. When you take the time to develop these essential skills, your team will thank you and you’ll watch your career evolve to impressive new levels.

TOP 5 SOFT SKILLS FOR LEADERS 2020 – What Soft Skills Are Important in Leadership and Management?

Why are soft skills for leadership important?

Soft skills are important for leadership because skills like effective communication with team members, making decisions about processes and maintaining an organized team are essential to productivity and performance. Successful leadership commonly encompasses strong soft skills that enable leaders to motivate and inspire their teams. Additionally, the ability to lead successfully often depends on a leaders ability to strategize, listen to feedback and incorporate their teams ideas and contributions.

Essential soft skills for effective leadership

The following soft skills are important for successful leadership:

Communication skills

Leadership relies on effective communication. Successful leaders are often active listeners who are open to feedback and acceptance of their teams perspectives. To demonstrate communication skills effectively in a leadership role means having the ability to apply discussion techniques, interpret body language and correspond with others in writing.

Interpersonal skills

The ability to navigate social interactions with colleagues is an important aspect of leadership. Interpersonal skills allow leaders to gauge others emotions and respond to interactions based on their awareness of their teams thoughts, ideas and feelings.

Teamwork skills

Every successful leader knows how to work as a team with their colleagues. Collaborating and sharing ideas, contributing to a common cause and helping teammates achieve success are common teamwork skills that effective leadership depends on.

Motivational skills

Motivating and inspiring others are key indicators of strong leadership. Leading a group or team of coworkers means motivating them and providing inspiration. Leaders who are passionate and share that passion with their teams have a higher chance of maintaining employee morale, increasing productivity and improving performance.

Analytical skills

Leading a team requires the ability to analyze and evaluate processes and operations. Leaders rely on their analytical skills to make decisions, weigh options and predict the outcomes of projects or tasks they are responsible for.

Problem-solving skills

Being able to develop creative solutions to solve workplace problems is another highly desirable trait that successful leadership can require. Finding ways to mitigate risks, reduce logistical issues and implement strategies that meet business objectives are several key factors that effective problem-solving encompasses.

Decision-making skills

Considering all perspectives, comparing advantages and disadvantages and projecting outcomes of making choices are fundamental to effective decision-making. Additionally, the ability to decisively act during times of conflict is another trait of effective leadership.

Conflict resolution

Leaders need to be able to resolve issues in the workplace. This means developing conflict resolution techniques like remaining impartial, meeting with the team for a feedback session and actively listening to all individuals points of view. Being able to calm heightened emotions and maintain harmony in the workplace is extremely valuable.

Empathy

The ability to empathize and understand others is a trait skilled leaders rely on to lead teams and direct processes. Being able to approach coworkers with kindness and acceptance can inspire and foster healthy work relationships. Additionally, empathy in leadership shows vulnerability, which makes leaders approachable and more relatable to their teammates.

Compassion

Working with a team requires patience, acceptance and sometimes tolerance. Great leaders understand employees make mistakes and make room to accommodate their teams growth and development. Leaders who strive to prioritize their teams needs often demonstrate high levels of compassion and caring.

Confidence

Good leaders are assertive and it shows. Confidence in leadership encompasses the ability to admit mistakes and improve, act as a role model for teammates and be aware of strengths and weaknesses. Confidence in leadership means being open to improvement and understanding the value you provide.

Integrity

Leadership requires consistency in actions, values, principles, expectations and methods. Leaders who consistently act with integrity commit to behaving ethically and morally. Integrity in leadership means doing the right thing, no matter the circumstances, and great leaders know this.

Honesty

Integrity and honesty are staples of great leadership. Leaders who are open and transparent in their communications with staff commonly have healthier work relationships because they inspire greater trust. Leaders who remain honest in their leadership style acknowledge the value of their team, and this also helps build trust.

Mentoring skills

Whether training new employees or helping teams implement improvement plans, successful leaders are adept mentors. They lead their teams and support their growth and development in the workplace and find ways to accommodate learning.

Willingness to learn

Leadership means being open to learning, along with teaching and directing. Leaders who commit to learning new skills, develop their knowledge and learn from their mistakes.

Delegating tasks

Allocating tasks, defining project parameters and directing a team to work together to meet objectives is something most leaders do every day in their roles. Additionally, delegating tasks efficiently can mean knowing which team members can handle especially challenging tasks and which team members benefit more from smaller tasks. The ability to evaluate and pair talent with tasks accordingly is what can make leaders efficient in their jobs.

Organizational skills

Documents, files, charts, tools, resources and various other tangible aspects of leading a team require organizational methods to avoid confusion and misunderstandings between team members. Highly effective leadership depends on the ability to implement organizational structure, outline procedures and maintain consistent workflow in the office.

Creativity

Creative leaders use innovative strategies and approaches for completing projects, organizing teams and developing solutions. Leaders who can think strategically and apply imaginative concepts and ideas to achieve business objectives do so efficiently. Business growth often depends on leaders creativity and imaginative designs to implement strategies that help their organizations achieve goals.

Strategic planning

Strategic planning relies on analysis and evaluation, creating solutions and projecting outcomes to develop plans for business processes. These business processes are what move a business toward its goals. Strategic planning encompasses a mix of analytical, evaluative and critical thinking skills to integrate business strategies.

Emotional intelligence

Self-awareness, mindfulness and intrapersonal skills are key traits of emotional intelligence. Leadership depends on the ability to evaluate your own emotions before confronting situations, identify environmental stimulants that trigger negative emotions and resolve internal conflicts before interacting with others.

Adaptability

The ability to be flexible in your role and adapt to changes in the workplace are skills that are critical for growth and development as a leader. Effective leaders adapt to transitions by finding ways to cope with new situations, support teammates in times of change and initiate team collaboration to ensure their teams have input during any changes in processes or operations.

FAQ

What is soft skills in leadership?

If you want a motivated, productive, successful workforce, good communication tops the soft skills list. Strong communication abilities are an absolute must for any leader. They’re essential to manage your employees effectively, and even persuade investors or partners to support your business.

Why is leadership soft skill important?

Soft skills are important for leadership because skills like effective communication with team members, making decisions about processes and maintaining an organized team are essential to productivity and performance.

Does leadership come under soft skills?

Here are the top 10 soft skills every leader needs:
  • Embodying self-awareness. …
  • Managing with emotional intelligence. …
  • Leading with a positive attitude. …
  • Communicating effectively. …
  • Embodying empathy. …
  • Solving problems creatively. …
  • Accepting feedback. …
  • Praising publicly and criticizing privately.

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