Leadership Skills: Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills



Leadership Hard Skills

Specific knowledge and abilities required to be successful in your job. Hard skills are teachable skills. They are easier to measure than the soft skills. Some examples: mathematical skills, data analysis, and any other type of technical job related skills.


Leadership Soft Skills

How you approach life and work, the way you interact with other people. Soft skills are personal-driven and hard to measure. Some example of soft skills: communication, negotiation, capacity to motivate, creativity.


The question that is being asked quite often is what leadership skills are more important: the hard (technical) skills or the soft (people) skills.


Are soft skills more important than hard skills for a leader? - #LeadershipDevelopment #BusinessTransformation #DigitalTransformation #entrepreneur Share with a Friend


Let’s consider for a second that the best way to answer this question is by putting yourself in the shoes of your team members. With other words: developing empathy (a soft skill).

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Would you prefer to be in a team lead by a fantastic individual with exceptional people (soft) skills but with not enough technical skills?

Or, the other way around, in a team lead by a well-rounded professional, a leader with outstanding technical (hard) skills but with inexistent people (soft) skills?

These are rather extreme situation, but unfortunately, also real life situations. And it’s clear that these teams are not the happiest, best performing entities. Though, exceptions exist.


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Leadership Skills Sweet Spot


I have witnessed situations where the teams were performing incredibly well under both of these extreme conditions. The secret might reside in the fact that the team was compensating the lack of skill (hard or soft) of the leader and everybody was happy.

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Most probably, there is no best recipe for the ratio of each of these skills in a good leader. Choosing one skill over the other should be triggered by the context in which the leader operates.


Choosing soft skills over hard skills should be triggered by the context in which the leader operates - #leaders #leadershipDevelopment #TeamWork Click To Tweet


Some team members will follow a leader with strong technical skills while others will appreciate the people skills.


This means in the end using your best judgement (and a mix of self-awareness and empathy) to decide what is the best attitude to adopt with every team member in every situation.

If you were to give a recipe for the skill combination of a good leader, how would you set the ration between soft and hard skills? What about you, how would you evaluate your own technical to people skill ratio?


A Different Angle


Let’s suppose neither your soft skills nor your hard skills need improvement.

You are at the place where you need to be in terms of technical knowledge, self-awareness and empathy?

But are you there always? What happens to your reaction and reasoning capacity when you are tired? Stressed? On a tight schedule?


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There is a proven correlation between your capacity to evaluate correctly a social situation (and the same is valid for technical issues) and your level of stress. The more stressed we are, the less correct our evaluation is. And our answer suffers. With the consequences you could imagine.


The more stressed we are, the less correct is our evaluation of the situation. And we are more inclined to use reasoning shortcuts. - #stress #assumptions #leadershipDevelopment Click To Tweet


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Photo Credit: Andrea Sonda


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