top of page
  • Writer's pictureMelanie Reinersman

Soft Skills and Leadership: Developing and Implementing Traits that Go Beyond the Task

Updated: May 27, 2020

Effective leaders do not take for granted soft skills. New workers may ignore discipline, empathy, and motivation as hardly more than a velleity, yet live to regret not putting the effort in to developing these skills. Unemployment, unhappiness at work, and loss of relationships can all result from the absence of soft skills. Career counselors know this and model these skills as the first step in helping their clients. ~ David M. Reile, Ph.D.

FOCUS ON: The Soft Skills Gap

Having technical skills may get the job done, but soft skills will keep job going. People skills, work ethic, attitude, and emotional intelligence are just a few that are crucial. When the organization is facing an inability to retain clients, high staff turnover, and managers who don’t lead, can you identify the soft skills gap? Read more.

FOR PRACTITIONERS: Putting Leaders in Others Shoes

Want to build trust? Strengthen relationships? Encourage productivity? How are all these soft skills connected? Empathy! Counselors know that empathy does all that and more. Leaders may need to be taught to employ empathy as an effective leadership tool. These basic tips for building empathy in leaders can be shared and demonstrated in a counseling setting. Read more about empathy.

BONUS! FOR PRACTITIONERS: Avoiding Problems = Avoiding Growth Opportunity

Maintaining discipline is work that the practitioner and client must never give up on. Like many soft skills, it has far-reaching effects, yet can easily be forgotten. A loss of discipline can lead to avoidance of problems, which causes a missed opportunity for growth. Four tools to help maintain discipline are delaying gratification, accepting responsibility, dedication to truth, and balance in words and actions. Read more about discipline.


Five soft skills play a vital role in successful work transitions, according to an article by Valerie Ward and Dorothy Riddle. Co-developers of the Employment Readiness ScaleTM, these consultants post a “call to action, compelling us as practitioners to strengthen our capacity to empower our clients and learners at all ages and stages to cultivate these skills.” Read a summary of the key elements of each soft skill and sample strategies to build the skill.

TOP TEN: Leadership Soft Skills

Communication is an obvious soft skill. Leaders must also not forget to learn to motivate others and practice political savvy. Read all top ten soft skills for leaders.


“There’s not one specific thing or skill people have to have to work for us. But I can tell you why we fire people: soft skills. We hire for hard skills. We fire for soft skills. The ability to interact and communicate with others or behave ethically and take responsibility for things tends to be where people tend to break down.” - Rick Stephens, Senior Vice President of HR, The Boeing Corporation
“Leadership consists not in degrees of technique but in traits of character.” - Lewis H. Lapham


bottom of page