Interpersonal Skills for Leaders


Interpersonal skills are essential for leaders. This is the kind of statement you hear everywhere. And it’s true that interpersonal skills are high up on the leadership skills list.

Or put another way:

“There is more to success than simply being ‘clever’”

Daniel Goleman



But, you will ask:

What are interpersonal skills?

Interpersonal skills are the soft skills we use every day when we communicate and interact with other people.

And you’ll next question will be:

Can you give some interpersonal skills examples?

Here are the most important interpersonal skills:

  • Communication
  • Listening Ability
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Teamwork
  • Decision Making
  • Problem Solving
  • Negotiation
  • Persuasion
  • Assertiveness

Interpersonal skills are interdependent. You can’t really have one without the other. For example, you can’t be a good negotiator if you don’t have not only a good communication style but also listening abilities, persuasion, and assertiveness.



Let’s see very briefly what each skill means.

Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is the capacity to send your message through, in an undistorted format, and to make sure that the receiver understood it the way you meant it in the first place.

It includes verbal communication, non-verbal communication, writing skills.


Interpersonal communication types


Listening Abilities

We all can listen but most of the times we listen to respond. We don’t listen to understand. Listening ability is our capacity to concentrate on the message being communicated and try to understand its meaning, free from personal or cultural biases.



Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the capability to recognize our own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s). The definition is given by Andrew Colman, in  A Dictionary of Psychology


Team Work

Team working is the capability to work as a part of a system, exchange and cooperate in order to attain a common goal. It is highly dependent on the level of the previous three skills: interpersonal communication skills, listening abilities, and the “quotient” of emotional intelligence (EQ).


Decision Making

Decision making is the act of choosing a course of action. The capacity for making good decisions in conditions of uncertainty, in a volatile environment, or on the contrary, when overwhelmed by information, is one of the most important skills for a successful leader.



Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Assertiveness

Negotiation, conflict resolution, and assertiveness are skills that will help you find a common ground when multiple interests are at play. A good leader is able to find the most common denominator when it comes to the aspirations of the parties involved.


How many of these skills do you possess? At what level?


If you want to learn more, here’s a list of resources:

Daniel Goleman – Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Daniel Goleman’s Website

Dale Carnegie – How To Win Friends and Influence People