Is there a winner in the hard skills vs soft skills contest? What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills? Is one more important than the other?

When it comes to leadership, the set of skills a leader has is essential. A certain level of hard skills (technical skills) is required, but not enough. However, an obvious lack of soft skills (people skills) should be a red flag when it comes to the capacity of the leader to sustain his team’s success in the long run.

Is there a perfect ratio of hard skills vs soft skills in a leader?

What do you choose when you want to hire a good one?

But, before trying to answer this question, let’s first start with defining what hard skills and soft skills are (for the sake of being on the same page).


Hard Skills Definition

Specific knowledge and abilities required to be successful in your job. Hard (technical) skills are teachable skills. They are easier to measure than the soft skills – hard skills are not the opposite of soft skills, they are the other face of the same coin. Some examples: mathematical skills, data analysis, and any other type of technical job related skills. Not to be confused with hard work skills!




Soft Skills Definition

How you approach life and work, the way you interact with other people. Soft skills are personal-driven and hard to measure. The list of soft skills, also called people skills, is rather large. Some example of soft skills for resume: communication, negotiation, capacity to motivate, creativity.


Are soft skills more important than hard skills for a leader? - #LeadershipDevelopment #BusinessTransformation #DigitalTransformation #entrepreneur Share with a Friend


Let’s consider for a second that the best way to answer this question is by putting yourself in the shoes of your team members. How? By developing empathy (a soft skill).

Would you prefer to be in a team lead by a fantastic individual with exceptional people (soft) skills but with not enough leadership technical skills?

Or, the other way around, in a team lead by a well-rounded professional, a leader with outstanding technical (hard) skills but with inexistent leadership soft skills?

These are rather extreme situation, but unfortunately, also real life situations. And it’s clear that these teams are not the happiest, best performing entities. Though, exceptions exist.

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills – The Sweet Spot

I have witnessed situations where the teams were performing incredibly well under both of these extreme conditions. The secret might reside in the fact that the team was compensating the lack of skills (hard or soft) of the leader and everybody was happy.


Leadership soft skills vs hard skills - The Busy Lifestyle


Most probably, there is no best recipe for the ratio of each of these skills in a good leader. Choosing one skill over the other should be triggered by the context in which the leader operates.


Choosing soft skills over hard skills should be triggered by the context in which the leader operates - #leaders #leadershipDevelopment #TeamWork Click To Tweet


Some of the team members will follow a leader with strong technical skills while others will appreciate the soft skills.





This means, in the end, to use your best judgement (and a mix of self-awareness and empathy) to decide what is the best attitude to adopt (and choose the correct mix of hard and soft skills) with every team member in every situation.

If you were to give a recipe for the skill combination of a good leader, how would you set the ratio between soft and hard skills? What about you, how would you evaluate your own technical to people skill ratio?



Hard Skills vs Soft Skills – A Different Angle

Let’s suppose that your leadership skill set is perfectly balanced, and neither your leadership soft skills nor your leadership technical skills need improvement.

You are at the place where you need to be in terms of technical knowledge, self-awareness and empathy?

But are you there always? What happens to your reaction and reasoning capacity when you are tired? Stressed? On a tight schedule?

There is a proven correlation between your capacity to evaluate correctly a social situation (and the same is valid for technical issues) and your level of stress. The more stressed we are, the less correct our evaluation is. And our answer suffers. With the consequences you could imagine.

Again in the hard skills vs soft skills “beauty contest”, which of the two should win? There is no denying of the importance of hard skills, but during “hard times” the soft skills should not be forgotten.


The more stressed we are, the less correct is our evaluation of the situation. And we are more inclined to use reasoning shortcuts. - #stress #assumptions #leadershipDevelopment Click To Tweet


Develop self-awareness to be able to express your soft skills even during stressful times. Take time for yourself, to relax. Take a step back, to grasp the whole context. This way, you can always be your best self. Even during tough times.

After all, they say a person character shows best when the times are tough and pressure is high.