Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills for a Leader

by Aaliyah Rolle Aaliyah Rolle | Mar 20, 2023 8:00:00 AM

JasperArt_2023-02-01_18.36.20_1The ability to lead effectively is widely considered a result of hard skills such as IQ, domain knowledge, and analytical reasoning. However, recent studies suggest that an individual's emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) may actually be a more accurate predictor of success in leadership roles. So, which is more important for leaders: hard skills or soft skills?

The answer may surprise you. While both sets of skills are important, the majority of respondents in a recent survey said that soft skills are actually more essential for leaders than hard skills. Here's a closer look at why soft skills are so important for leaders and how you can develop them.

Why should a leader want both soft skills and hard skills?

  • Soft skills help leaders to effectively manage and motivate their teams, as well as build relationships with other departments and stakeholders. They are also essential for displaying empathy and understanding, which can be key when managing difficult situations. 

  • Hard skills provide practical knowledge and abilities that enable a leader to carry out the day-to-day tasks of managing a team or a business. This includes subjects such as finance, accounting, strategy, problem solving and project management. 

  • Leaders who have a good balance of both soft skills and hard skills can bring innovative ideas to the table while being able to turn them into tangible results through their technical knowledge. 

  • Having both soft and hard skills allow leaders to create an effective workplace environment where collaboration, communication and creativity are encouraged. This leads to higher engagement and productivity levels within the team. 

  • Leaders who have strong soft and hard skills possess the essential qualities that make them successful role models for members of their team, inspiring them towards greater heights of achievement. This type of leadership makes it easier for teams to stay focused on achieving their goals in an efficient manner.

Defining soft skills and hard skills

Hard skills and soft skills are often misunderstood as two separate types of abilities. Hard skills refer to concrete, technical skills that are necessary for certain jobs and processes, such as IT programming, accounting or web development. On the other hand, soft skills comprise of charisma, organizational skills, empathy and communication; these are all essential characteristics for successful collaboration with colleagues and customers alike. Developing both hard and soft skills is paramount to success in many job roles in a modern workplace.

Extra Example of Types of Soft Skills and Hard Skills:

  1. Soft Skills: Timekeeping, Critical thinking, Leadership skills, Motivation, Ambition, Negotiating
  2. Hard Skills: Microsoft office, Interpreting data, Financial Planning, Copywriting, Troubleshooting, Project Management, Spoken Languages (e.g. Spanish, Italian, etc.)

The importance of both in the workplace

Having team work and cooperation in the workplace can often be seen as paramount for success. This is because for all team members to reach their true potential, they must be able to rely on each other as well as ensure all tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. Effective team work fosters trust, stability, morale and encourages creative thinking. Cooperation also plays a large role in the workplace- being able to successfully manage team responsibilities while coordinating both individual and team activities makes a well-rounded working dynamic. The importance of both teamwork and cooperation provides the necessary framework that allows team members to thrive both professionally and personally.

How to develop each type of skill

The best way to develop any type of skill is to gain insight through seminars and workshops that help build on individual strengths and weaknesses. Experience is also key in honing any set of abilities, whether it be through shadowing someone who possesses that skill or from hands-on practice. As a manager or thought expert, recognizing the development needs of your team is essential for ensuring everyone has access to training and support. By taking the time to encourage growth in your team's unique skillsets, you can improve productivity and results even further.

The benefits of being a leader with strong soft and hard skills

Being a leader with strong soft and hard skills opens the door for collaboration, unity, and growth within the workplace. Soft skills, such as positivity, decision making, and creativity make up the core qualities of a successful leader, while hard skills offer tactical advantages like problem-solving and conflict resolution in difficult situations. A combination of both can give an individual an edge in tricky management scenarios and foster a united environment among fellow peers. With these skills at the forefront, employees are more highly engaged which contributes to improved collaboration across teams. Ultimately this helps improve business performance which leads to further growth in the organization.

Real-life examples of leaders who excel in both areas

One great example of a leader who excels in both soft and hard skills is Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. From an early age, Jobs showed his aptitude for both the technical and the interpersonal. His deep relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was driven by Jobs' remarkable ability to clearly articulate his vision and persuade others to join him in taking risks. As a CEO, Jobs continually demonstrated exceptional creativity and problem-solving skills that allowed him to produce world-changing products while maintaining an intensely focused team culture. At the same time, he also demonstrated highly developed emotional intelligence; he was able to motivate teams through strategic communication and create an atmosphere of trust and respect among colleagues. He excelled at leading by example, creating a “reality distortion field” that enabled him to challenge accepted norms yet still inspire followership when needed. Through his unique combination of technical acumen, creative visionary thinking, and persuasive interpersonal abilities, Jobs set a standard in leadership that few have been able to match since.

Why it's essential to have a balance of both types of skills

Balancing both technical and soft skills is essential for a well-rounded individual and successful professional. Soft skills encompass all the interpersonal abilities needed to effectively deliver projects, from communication and problem solving to collaboration. Technical skills, on the other hand, offer the ability to identify complex problems and develop creative solutions in the modern workplace. Both types of skills need to be developed in balance for professionals at all levels and across many industries. Having a balance of both technical and soft skills allows people managers to most effectively lead projects and teams since they possess a comprehensive comprehension of different tools and techniques. The combination of these two areas of expertise can help create powerful leaders with unique capabilities.

In conclusion, the importance of having both soft and hard skills as a leader cannot be overstated. Having an equal balance of these two types of skills is essential for success and can make the difference between achieving great things or not in any organizational setting. Leaders who possess both sets of skills are better at making decisions, communicating with others, problem solving, and inspiring and motivating teams to reach their goals. With effective soft and hard skills, leaders can ensure their team's success, build strong relationships, lead with confidence and create a culture that encourages creativity and innovation. So if you're looking to become a successful leader in your organization, be sure to focus on developing both your soft and hard skills - it could very well decide your future!


What actions do you plan to take to improve your skills? Let us know down below!


Subscribe Now

Additional Reading