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How to improve your interpersonal leadership skills

Written By | May 16, 2017

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2017 – Leaders need two types of skills:

  • Hard skills typically are results-oriented, all about the bottom-line, and involve telling others what needs to be done.
  • Soft skills, on the other hand, include listening, compassion, empathy, and providing positive reinforcement to others, to name just a few.

What does successful leadership look like today? Current trends in leadership – which can be found at many levels, not just the top – confirm that soft skills are taking on as much importance as traditional hard skills. Generally, the most successful leaders are competent in both hard and soft skills.

While there is nothing wrong with hard skills – after all, we all want results – f these skills are not blended with soft skills there may be no one available to lead a project or a company. Consider also that employee turnover can be a byproduct of poor leadership.

Combining hard and soft skills can result in a desirable leadership blend, whether at work or at home. Having strong interpersonal skills is of key importance for individuals and businesses.

I have worked with many workplace assessments. One that is being used a great deal is the Emotional Intelligence 360 degree feedback assessment. As its name implies, a “360 assessment” is a complete assessment that rates different competencies and skills.

In this assessment, an individual employee rates himself or herself. At the same time, a 360 “around the world” assessment of that individual is undertaken by people he or she reports to (boss, manager, supervisor), people working at the same level (peers) and people who report to the individual being assessed (direct reports). Customers also rate the individual, rounding out the circle.

Consistent with today’s trends, I was recently debriefing a 360 assessment where the focus was on both hard and soft skills. Feedback from employees regarding the soft skills was positive and thought to be necessary.

Today, the term “IQ,” or “intelligence quotient” is a measure that most people have heard about even if they’ve never taken a test to determine their IQ number or measure. In relatively recent times, another type of individual measure is being assessed. It’s called “Emotional Intelligence,” or EQ. This measure involves determining the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

(To learn more about Emotional Intelligence, read Daniel Goleman’s books on the subject.)

Whether communicating at home or work, most people today would agree that all relationships function best among individuals possessing healthy interpersonal skills. Studies in communication show that people take in 7 percent of verbal communication, while 93 percent of the their information is communicated through a combination of body language and tone.

Think about how you communicate. Are you clear or ambiguous? How’s your tone? Do you generally express yourself by making judgments? Or do you most often approach communication with more neutrality? Are you listening to someone else? Or are you thinking of your response in advance while the other person is still talking? When communicating with others, are you aware of whether you usually employ hard or soft skills, or both?

The following tips may help point you in the direction of successful leadership and successful relationship building:

Create a Deeper Awareness
Are you aware of your impact on others and their impact on you, as well as your own self-awareness?

Develop More Patience
There are many reasons why a given individual’s patience level may be low. Daily problems such as deadlines to meet, having a great deal or too much to do, and other related or unrelated business or family issues can derail anyone. Practicing and mastering soft skills like patience may actually be a great way to overcome your impatience.

Simple and straightforward. Treat others with the utmost respect.

Different Styles
Strive to be interpersonally flexible. Does your personal style “chill” or “warm” others?

Relationship Building
Take a minute in the morning for a little chitchat with friends, co-workers and family members. Sincerely ask people how they are or how their weekend was, and focus on their responses rather than yours. This small gesture takes little time. But it pays off in many important ways, such as increased productivity.

Today, the art of listening – really listening – is often neglected or scorned. Focus on what the other person is saying to you as opposed to thinking about what you want to say. Not listening to others effectively can cause miscommunication.

The hard-skill mindset that usually barks out “what’s the bottom-line” or “just give me the results” won’t get you the rich results that you will deserve if you learn to excel in using both hard and soft skills. So whether your bottom-line at the office pays off financially, or works at home by getting extra hugs, using both skills in harmony with one another is a win-win for all involved.

For more Information Contact:

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Certified Business, Life & Career Coach
Focusing on Confidence & Resilience Strategies and Transition
Certified Mediator

301-706-7226 & 703-574-0039!/susan.samakow

Twitter: @SelfTalkCoach

Ask Susan about her coaching packages and the Stress Reducing techniques she teaches: EFT (Tapping) and Breathing Exercises.

Susan Samakow

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, is a Certified Business, Life and Leadership Coach. Susan focuses on life and career transition, business and leadership, and confidence and resilience strategies. Susan is also a speaker and facilitator, as well as a Community Content Producer for WUSA 9 TV. She is the former president of the ICF Metro DC Chapter, the largest in North America. Susan’s clients are individuals, any size business and the government. Visit Susan’s website: Susan is on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.