Interpersonal Skills All Leaders Should Have

TOP 15 GOOD Interpersonal Skills All Leaders Should HAVE

Many professionals aspire to have leadership positions without knowing very well what this means in practice. Just like human knowledge, which expands every day, the definition of leadership is also constantly updated. Today, the leader is an agent of change, someone capable of impacting both his reality and the reality of others through protagonism and execution.

If you imagine a possible career advancement and want to become a capable leader, continue to read this article to the end and learn more about the qualities of a leader and understand the difference between a leader and a boss.

According to Prentice, leadership is also the achievement of a goal through the direction of human collaborators. The man who successfully commands his collaborators to achieve specific purposes is a leader. A great leader has this ability day after day, year after year, in a wide variety of situations.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, studies were conducted at the University of Michigan to determine what characteristics resulted in effective leadership. After interviews with supervisors and subordinates of high and low productivity groups in several organizations.

The results of the studies suggested that there are two fundamental types of leader behavior:  i) a work-centered (closely follows the activities of its subordinates; ii) focused on the effective accomplishment of the task, and it is an employee-centered (creates influential working groups with high-performance targets).

Given the results found, “researchers from Michigan have suggested that employee-centered behavior is more likely to lead the group to effective performance than work-centered behavior.”  (GRIFFIN AND MOORHEAD)

TOP 15 GOOD Interpersonal Skills All Leaders Should HAVE

1. Emotional intelligence 

Leaders need essential intelligence and relevant knowledge for the job. The intellectual quotient (IQ) and technical skills are necessary, but they are not sufficient requirements for leadership.

Incorporating the five components of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills) allows the individual leader to become a performance star.

Without emotional intelligence, a person can have excellent training, a highly analytical mind, a long-term vision, fantastic ideas without making him a great leader (ROBBINS, 2002).

2. Verbal communication 

Many leaders have the gift of the word that makes them eloquent; it is about articulating your ideas in a meaningful way, both written and verbal. These skills help a leader communicate his vision to gain support and achieve goals, increase the leader’s credibility and instructions become easier to follow, and ensure that discussions take place in a structured manner without losing sight of the outcome.

An example would be when you talk to your client, your employees, or even your coworkers. It would be best if you convey your thoughts in a planned way, avoiding transmitting something unintentionally.

Plus, good communication skills allow you to work more effectively in groups and teams and have better time management.

3. Credibility

A leader needs to convey integrity and honesty, and his actions must be transparent so that no one can put them to the test. A dubious character is comparable to a time bomb; it is only a matter of time before it destroys a person’s credibility.

A professional with good character and principles is a leader that people trust because he respects you and adds value to your team. This is transmitted in decision-making and habits in everyday life.

4. Knowledge

It is doubtful that a team will follow a person who shows a profound lack of expertise in their field. The experience allied to the technique is an indispensable tool in the daily life of a leader.

Being in leadership is to analyze the problems and find the best solutions to solve them or at least help orient others to do it. Those who improve their knowledge can bring innovations to their industry and encourage self-development practices among their leaders.

5. Supportive of the autonomy of collaborators 

A leader must distribute responsibilities and trust that people closest to the action have specific skills therefore worthy of autonomy to make decisions.

Research shows, on numerous occasions, that employees who can organize their time and work with more autonomy are consequently more productive and proactive. They provide better customer service and show high job satisfaction and commitment to their team and company.

Remember: giving up power is a great way to increase your influence, which results in improved control over time.

6. Public speaking

Having the ability to speak in public is a crucial necessity for a leader. The ability to speak in public is composed of three skills that you will have to master: know how to analyze an audience (to adapt the message), learn how to write a speech (use terms and expressions that people understand) and know how to speak (have the ability to influence and persuade).

Leaders understand and respond to the needs of their audience; convincing speeches begin with a statement of attention and include a clear message, a preview of the main points, the main points, a summary, and a conclusion.

When speaking, it is crucial to maintain eye contact, use different voice tones and talk calmly.

7. Body language

According to anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell, a pioneer in the original study of non-verbal communication called “kinesic,” less than 35% of the meaning of a face-to-face conversation corresponds to the words said.

95% of communication is non-verbal, which means that our gestures, facial expressions, and body positioning convey a message to people even if we are not conscious.

A leader has mastery in communication as a whole to emphasize verbal and/or written messages. Using eye contact, confident posture, smile, gestures, and active listening, the message can be conveyed more clearly to customers or staff.

8. Empathy

Empathy is a powerful trait that a leader can exercise. By demonstrating empathy, it will allow interaction with one or more people to have more beneficial results. It is through empathy that leaders create bridges of communication between people.

If there is an idea or message to pass on, it is essential to know how best to convey it and make it understood. On the contrary, when receiving a message, the professional needs to engage and try to feel what the person is feeling, not to make judgments beforehand, to seek encouragement in solving the problem, and, if possible, to offer help.

9. Active listening

Active listening is one of the most underrated skills that can make a leader a better communicator instantly. It is a communication technique that the listener starts by interpreting and understanding who is being transmitted to him.

According to Dale Carnegie, listening is a critical success factor in leadership. Listening is the best way to know each other’s needs to create a successful strategy. Being attentive to information and details is key to making well-informed decisions and guiding the organization in the right direction.

When someone talks, they like to be heard. By not paying due attention to what is being transmitted, much of the information may be “lost” or misinterpreted by the listener and may bring conflict or reduce the connection between both parts.

10. Ask the right questions.

A good leader asks the right questions at the right time. Being attentive during a dialogue is essential for this to happen. By asking pertinent questions, this shows the other person that the subject in question is of interest, thereby also generating a sense of empathy.

A leader prefers open questions, thus avoiding the answers “yes” or “no”- which are a great way to develop a conversation and encourage others to explore the subject.

Do not try to be the person who gives the best answer, but the one who asks the best question.

11. Good to conflicts response skills

A leader needs to be comfortable communicating with different types of people – each with their convictions and ideas – so it will be normal for a conflict to happen at some point. 

A conflict usually arises because of communication problems .

Different opinions or misunderstandings may give rise to a problem that would be easily avoided. But attention! In the event of a conflict, avoiding confrontation is not the solution.

Responding to a conflict in a controlled, rational, objective, and problem-focused manner is usually a suitable method and a leader’s path.

12. Negotiation

Negotiation is seen as a process between two or more parties who share common interests and where everyone can benefit from such a transaction if they reach a successful conclusion.

Although hierarchically dispersed, both leaders and collaborators are in the same boat, generally share the same objectives, so the negotiation is essential to understand whether the other person wants the same and, if not, what the intended target is.

Communication, whether verbal or non-verbal, is essential if the negotiators achieve the expected results and resolve any differences that – inherent in the negotiation process – may arise.

As information is the primary source of power in a negotiation process, the leader should know how to ask the questions and listen to the other party to modify or improve their approach.

The attempt must be made to achieve a result in which both parties win, not just the interested party.

13. Brainstorm Ideas with collaborators

Brainstorming is a technique that seeks to find the solution to a problem or generate creative insights through the spontaneous sharing of ideas. The idea of this process is to give life to the maxim “two heads think better than one.”

Therefore, it is essential that brainstorming involves many participants, preferably bringing together people active in the company but with different perspectives. This plurality of ideas is the pillar of technique; for it to succeed, the process must focus on quantity, hence quality.

A leader is open to new dynamics and changes and, in that process, engages the remaining members of his team to ensure that everyone is in the same direction.

Thus, it is vital that brainstorming is entirely free from criticism. Even ideas that seem inefficient make sure they are also taken into account; after all, they can be the starting point for building more profound thoughts.

However, it is essential not to confuse this freedom of ideas with a clear goal. Participants in the process must bear in mind which problem they want to solve or what kind of novelty they wish to develop. In the end, the best insights are extracted and converted into strategy.

14. Authenticity and Trust

This will probably be the most important rule of all. Trust is essential in two ways: appearance when conveying a message and as a leader and collaborator relationship.

First, trust comes from knowledge. When you realize what you are talking about, security will come by default. Practicing a lot, adopting positive body language, and having the courage to act are usually enough.

The cornerstone of leadership is when employees feel confident in their leader; so they tend to follow them and be influenced. Trust is based on a positive probability that the other person will not act opportunistically.

A leader is honest, realistic, and does not betray his values because he will be respected by having respect for himself.

15. Innovation 

The leaders are responsible, can join teams, and lead them to optimized performance results. An effective leader recognizes the importance of valuing the differences between people and knows how to connect the dots between these differences to get the best results.

Leaders cultivate a working environment of continuous improvement, innovation, and initiative. The creation begins with those who conduct business in all functional and departmental areas.

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The Difference between a Leader and Manager

Managers have formal authority, in which they create rules, exercise control, minimize risks, that is, and appear to have a less comprehensive posture with subordinates, seeking to meet the organization’s objectives.On the other hand, the leaders present a more empathetic posture with their collaborators because they prioritize people, listen, and talk to them. Finally, they value the individual characteristics promoting the development of the group and transforming it into a work team.
Set agendas with plans.Develops visions strategies and shares with its employees.
Action from command.Action from inspiration.
Characterized by rigidity, control, and maintain the current system.Characterized by its flexibility, autonomy, and generate changes, practical, focuses on people.

Covey (2004) reports that the difference between the manager and the leader is in how they see situations and objectives.  Management is the vision of methods; it analyzes the best way to achieve certain things. At the same time, leadership deals with goals and goals by focusing on achieving something.

Complementing such claims to leadership expert Warren Bennis (1996), there are many differences between leaders and managers.  Among the differences, Bennis points out that while the manager controls, copies, and maintains, the leader innovates, is original, and develops.

Leaders know how to identify problems and develop the skills necessary to solve them. In short, managers and leaders are not the same thing but working together, and they can play important roles for the future of an organization.

Management and leadership are not competitors but complementary.  The manager’s role seeks the interests of the organization, and the role of the leader seeks the interest of people, maintaining the necessary balance to the organization.


Leadership is built day by day. Everyday experiences with the team and each of the professionals improve the ability of the manager to know the profiles and potentials.

Leaders are influential because they are connected to people management; since they are responsible for passing on the company’s culture and engaging the team so that the mission, vision, and values of the organization are aligned with the team’s objectives. 

Leadership, as well as any interpersonal skill, can be developed.

Reference and Further Reading


GroomingThoughtLeaders. 26 Communication Skills Tips for Influencers and Leaders.

How interpersonal skills affect your leadership style. Michael Page.

Top 8 Interpersonal Qualities of Great Leaders. Ace the Presentation.

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