The topic for 2019

Are Soft Skills more difficult to develop than hard skills, and are they crucial to being a successful leader?  These were the questions we pondered at a dinner prior to our International Women’s Day event in March this year.  In our modern world of technology and Artificial Intelligence, a leader with soft skills will stand apart with a powerful personal brand, and arguably soft skills are something a female leader is more likely to possess than male leaders.

But are soft skills the most important trait of a successful leader?  Or are hard skills such as problem solving, decision making, discipline, focus just as crucial?

That is the question our debaters will address at the Women of Influence Annual Great Debate, Thursday 13 June.


Having soft skills means having a high degree of Emotional Intelligence, the ability to build meaningful relationships, having empathy, demonstrating authenticity, being humble, listening and communicating openly and therefore negotiating more effectively.  Examples of memorable leaders with soft skills throughout history are Gandhi, Mother Theresa rather than Hitler; Barrack Obama rather than Donald Trump; Jacinda Adern rather than our current Australian political environment.

Salvoley and Mayer’s model of cognitive abilities from 1990’s defined emotional intelligence as:

From a scientific (rather than a popular) standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships, and to manage your own and others’ emotions. It doesn’t necessarily include the qualities (like optimism, initiative, and self-confidence) that some popular definitions ascribe to it.

Salvoley and Mayer

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