January 13

3 Soft Skills Every Leader Needs


Leadership today is tough. You have a lot on your plate and demands on your time. Whether you are managing a sales team, running a company, or just leading yourself. There are deadlines to hit, goals to surpass, and employees to retain. So how do you know where to focus and how do you manage your time? It is tough.

To be effective as a leader, you have to understand what’s important and learn which actions you can leverage — prioritizing those skills and strategies that will bring the greatest return on investment.

3 Skills to Develop Guaranteed to Make You Even More Effective as a Leader

  1. Listening – I know you have heard this one before but hang on and read a little further. Listening is powerful on multiple levels. First, if you listen to people, listen to your employees and customers, they will tell you exactly what they want. What they want, how they want to be led, how they want to be sold, what they value – in essence, if you listen to people, they will tell you how to do your job as a leader, and do it most effectively.

Second, listening is how you show people you care, that they matter, and that you value the relationship you have with them. When people feel heard, they feel important, and that is a powerful motivation.

And lastly, when you listen to people, you may get some great ideas. Great ideas on how to grow your business, service your customers, innovate and change, and perform more effectively.

  1. Vulnerability – be open and honest with employees and let them know you are all in and committed. Years ago, I made a critical mistake in my new role as a sales rep. My mistake cost the company quite a bit of money and a long-time customer. I didn’t have the courage to tell my boss, and when he found out, I was sure he was going to fire me. He called me to his office and told me to take a seat. I was shaking in my shoes.

But instead of scolding me, he told me a story about when he was my age, in a new role, and the critical mistake that he had made and how it had the same negative impact as mine. He shared that his boss, rather than fire him or yell at him, had walked him through the mistake, talked about how it happened, and used it as a significant learning opportunity. He had never forgotten that, and he wanted to share the same lesson with me.

That is vulnerability at its finest. My boss not only showed empathy and understanding for me, but he also made himself human. He was soft enough that I could connect and listen to him while being strong enough to make me respect him, and vow never to do it again. I left his office feeling more bonded to both the company and my boss.

  1. Connection – and last but not least is connection, or as I like to call it investing in the emotional bank account. Early on in my career, I had a great mentor who told me that one of the most important things you need to do as a leader is investing in relationships. Connect with your team members, get to know who they are as people, what’s important to them, and take an interest.

He explained that if you make those investments early on, and you keep building them consistently, you will have plenty of savings in the emotional bank account. So, when you need to make a withdrawal, the consequences will not be as painful. What he meant was, as leaders, we are not perfect. We will make mistakes, miss opportunities, or have to ask something of our team members that is tough to ask. If we have built these relationships first, invested our time and energy in our team, they will invest in us when we most need them to.

Again, being a leader today is challenging. There is so much competing for our time and attention. But if you commit every day to increase your ability to listen, be vulnerable, and connect with your team and your customers, you’ll become an even more effective leader.

Voted Top 15 Business Growth Experts To Watch, and Top 41 Motivational Speakers, Meridith Elliott Powell is a business growth strategist who helps her clients learn the techniques they need to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage. An award-winning author, Meridith’s latest book, with co-author Mary Kelly, Ph.D., is Who Comes Next? Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy.


Business Conference Keynote Speaker, Business Growth Expert, business leadership, effective leadership, leadership development, listening and leadership, soft skills

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