Soft Skills: The Key to Leadership Readiness


Hard skills vs. soft skills – what’s most important in the workplace today? While it’s essential that employees have hard skills to carry out their everyday tasks, soft skills are crucial for developing leaders in the workplace. Often referred to as the ‘human skills’ or ‘people skills,’ soft skills encompass a range of abilities related to how we interact, communicate, and collaborate with others. Examples of soft skills include communication, teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving.

Studies suggest that soft skills have become more important than hard skills in predicting career success. However, they have become rare qualities in applicants. Employers consistently say that teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills are essential for leaders, and ineffective leadership is the top worry for U.S. HR and risk executives this year. It’s crucial that employers invest in building soft skills to create a strong internal talent pipeline. But why are soft skills so important and how do we ensure employees build them? 

Why Soft Skills Are Invaluable in the Workplace

According to LinkedIn, 92% of talent professionals say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills when they hire, and 80% say they’re increasingly important to company success. Finding talent that has strong communication and teamwork skills is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. People with strong soft skills are more likely to be better leaders, communicators, and colleagues. Research also shows that well-honed soft skills can bring benefits to your department such as: 

  • Stronger interpersonal communication skills
  • Improved teamwork and coworker relationships
  • More innovative and comprehensive problem-solving
  • Increased adaptability and flexibility
  • Better work/life balance and improved time management skills  

The Shortage of Soft Skills Among Potential Leaders

Despite their undeniable importance, there’s a shortage of soft skills among potential leaders. A survey found that 75% of employers struggle to find college graduates equipped with the necessary soft skills needed to succeed. Many people believe soft skills are personality traits that cannot be taught, however these traits are like a muscle — you have to work them to get stronger. Psychology Today emphasizes that soft skills require individuals to embrace self-regulation and focus on mastering the skills necessary to succeed. 

How to Build Soft Skills

Luckily, we can address the shortage of soft skills by developing and honing them over time. This Stanford University Study showed that a group of early-career women who participated in reacHIRE’s Leadership Development Program had significant improvements in their self-perceived soft skills. The program has highly sought-after soft skills like teamwork, collaboration, and communication woven into the curriculum. It tackles topics like building resiliency, boosting confidence, having difficult conversations, handling feedback, working with teams, and so much more. By investing in programs such as reacHIRE’s Leadership Development Program, companies can facilitate the growth of soft skills among their workforce.

Organizations are doing their best to stay ahead, and having a team that’s not just skilled — but also great at communicating, empathizing, and thinking on their feet — can help propel your organization forward. By bridging the gap between hard skills and soft skills, we can unlock the full potential of our most valuable assets — our people.