Some concepts in business jargon are having a hard time to get rid of undesirable connotations, such as “Soft Skills”. In a tough corporate world dominated by tough people, “soft” sounds like weak, hesitant, not strong enough, “goody-goody”, undemanding, permissive, lax, ineffective, … you name it. From that point of view, obviously Soft Skills seem tremendously non-priority skills.

Nevertheless, as I have observed in my professional practice, behind these ideas lies a lack of knowledge and deeper understanding of the relevance, necessity, and impact of Soft Skills in business and team management.

Unfortunately, we often come across Managers – even HR professionals – who have a limited understanding of Soft Skills. Consequently, their ignorance is a direct threat to competent judgement and effective actions that ultimately fail to promote a work environment rich in “softness”.

This post aims to encourage a slightly more detailed analysis of what softness seems to be and what it really is.

1. Is it soft to onboard new team members in a welcoming way? – No, that’s common sense and it’s motivating a person to contribute to the max from the start.

2. Is it soft to train a person in their position? – No, that’s acting as a “Leader as a teacher” (hello, Lean Management) getting people to become competent in their jobs.

3. Is it soft to take the time talking to the people in your team one by one and asking them about their well-being, development, needs…? – No, that’s called leadership, building connections, psychological safety, fostering commitment, etc.

4. Is it soft to schedule, prepare and diligently carry out One to One interviews with the people in your team? – No, that’s prioritisation, dedication, commitment, and discipline. It is also an investment in work climate and your leadership.

5. Is it soft to define in detail the roles and tasks of a person in a project? – No, that’s called delegation with diligence and judgement, avoiding problems, and obtaining the best possible results.

6. Is it soft to calm down a person who is angry and lacks self-esteem? – No, that’s the ability to make that person feel confident and safe.

7. Is it soft to listen (without interrupting constantly) to a person who has an opinion contrary to yours? – No, that’s called politeness and having self-esteem.

8. Is it soft to keep cool when someone reproaches you for certain things and not counterattacking impulsively straightaway? – No, that’s the high art of self-control and it implies the ability to respond intelligently.

9. Is it soft to give constructive and candid criticism that corrects and encourages at the same time? – No, that is just a great skill, not to say an art.

10. Is it soft to convince others based on data, good arguments, solid structure … instead of displaying power – “because I say so”? – No, that’s an effective and professional communication habit.

11. Is it soft not constantly trying to impress everyone with your insights, grandiose ideas and intelligence? – No, that’s just very much appreciated by everyone (we don’t impress anyone any more at this point).

12. Is it soft to identify and assess a person’s skills and knowledge in order to help them overcome difficulties at work? – No, that’s helping them to grow as a person and professional.

13. Is it soft to appreciate someone’s superhuman work efforts despite having some family issues going on? – No, that’s human, fair and essential.

14. Is it soft to give differentiated feedback? – No, that’s an investment in developing others and better results tomorrow.

15. Is it soft react to an error of a co-worker with proportionality, firmness and respect? – No, that’s both professional skill and personal maturity, by equal parts.

16. Is it soft to set boundaries for a person who is failing to fulfil their responsibilities? – No, it means using your power correctly and fulfilling your role as a boss/leader.

17. Is it soft to fire the “bad apple” of the team? – No, that’s necessary and involves a determination that many other Managers may not have had.

18. Is it soft to ask for ideas or help with a problem you don’t know how to solve? – No, that’s intelligent humility and the ability to get the team to collaborate.

19. Is it soft to recognise that someone is better than you at something? – No, that’s a sign of generosity, self-esteem and (once again) humility.

20. Is it soft not taking credit for other people’s ideas, solutions or successes? – No, that’s smart and fair.

21. Is it soft to intervene in conflicts in your team and mediating successfully? – No, that’s courageous and quite difficult. By the way, that’s is taking on the less glamorous side of being a leader.

22. Is it soft to have lunch with your team once in a while? – No, that’s team building.

23. Is it soft to admit your weak points and ask for suggestions to improve? – No, that’s courage and the best way to be a little better every day as a Leader.

24. …and the list goes on.


Work environments with high levels of demonstrated Soft Skills are not places where everyone is intoxicated with some weird kind of over-the-top happiness, people holding hands, singing songs, and smiling faces.

In fact, environments with high levels of demonstrated Soft Skills are places of High Performance, they are healthy companies, meaningful workplaces, and excellent organisational performance. From this perspective, Soft Skills are not secondary skills but an absolute priority. They are no longer just “Soft Skills”, they are “Super Skills”