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Leadership and Interpersonal Skills

Leadership and Interpersonal Skills

With rising demand for those with interpersonal and leadership skills, professionals must become agile learners in order to stay relevant in the modern workplace. Thankfully, these capabilities can be learnt through an online course with GetSmarter.

Choose a leadership and interpersonal skills course

Today’s business environment is more complex than ever, with organizations and professionals needing to adapt to change on every front. Demographic shifts mean diverse, multigenerational workforces now share a space; digitization has transformed the way we work, with more professionals adopting flexible hours and operating remotely from multiple locations; and technological innovation is resulting in the creation of new job roles, the reshaping of old jobs, and the complete replacement of others.1 Leaders who want to stay relevant, diversify their skill set, and empower their employees to move forward need to develop their leadership strategy and gain the necessary capabilities to equip them for this modern workplace.

Unfortunately, many executives are still rooted in outdated mindsets and methodologies that threaten to limit and even hinder employee performance.2 In a recent survey of almost 4,400 leaders from more than 120 countries, only 12 percent of participants felt confident that their leaders had the right mindset and approach to successfully lead them forward.3 While this speaks to a global historical distrust of business, institutions, and systems of government, the majority of people believe that it is businesses – not governments – that are most capable of righting the inequalities that have caused this distrust, and of making the changes that will win their trust back.4 It’s incumbent upon business leaders to guide their organizations through transformation, and to prepare themselves and their teams for the workplace of the future. Reshaping the purpose of the organization, and its broader impact beyond its own ‘why’, will allow leaders to seize the opportunities created by disruptive global changes.5

To solve these large-scale, complex problems, a different approach to leadership is required – one that’s collaborative, humble and facilitates action, while still delivering on strong management and executive competencies.6 Although technical upskilling is a requirement for today’s leaders, soft skills – or interpersonal skills, like creativity, communication, and emotional intelligence – are among the most sought-after competencies in the modern workplace.7 Fortunately, such skills are capabilities that can be learnt and applied across different contexts, and updating them has several benefits: they make leaders more competitive in the job market, and could be the deciding factor that secures that dream job or promotion.8


What are leadership skills?

Leadership skills are used to motivate a group of people toward action in order to achieve a common objective.9 To function effectively in their roles, leaders need:

  • Communication skills. Leadership revolves around communication. Clearly and succinctly conveying goals, tasks, and feedback to employees is a key facet of leadership. Establishing two-way communication involves active listening skills and not just speaking, and requires that the leader make themselves available for communication for every tier in the business.10 Meetings and briefings can occur over different platforms, such as email, phone, or via social media, and all require their own set of skills.11 With so many employees and stakeholders now opting to work remotely, the ability to communicate effectively online and in person is a skill vital to today’s leader.12 Other types of communication skills include business storytelling, presentations, public speaking, nonverbal communication, and the ability to facilitate group conversations13
  • Self-awareness. Leaders who have this skill understand and know how to manage their own emotions and reactions. Self-awareness skills include setting boundaries, practising self-control and mindfulness, and being aware of emotional triggers and motivators14
  • The skill of serving. Servant leadership focuses on helping the team, instead of the team helping the leader. This leader employs listening and empathy to empower their team, ultimately helping them reach a common goal, while acting as a mentor throughout the process15
  • Digital literacy. Leaders with this skill spearhead the modernization of business strategy and operations by leveraging technology and creating a data literate culture16
  • Adaptability. Navigating a business through the disruptions of innovation requires the ability to adapt to change and be resilient while maintaining purpose17
  • Connectivity. An increasingly dispersed workforce means leaders of today need to connect with people, inspire greater collaboration, and create a sense of cohesiveness, be it in-person or virtually18
  • The ability to relate. In a technology-rich environment, leaders need to demonstrate empathy and inclusivity in order to relate to others on a truly human level and bring balance to the workplace19
  • Holistic, innovative thinking. Intellectual curiosity and a holistic view of any given situation allows leaders to think differently and come up with creative and innovative options20


Where hard skills pertain to the tasks carried out by an employee, soft skills relate to the way an employee completes these tasks, and how they adjust, work with others, solve problems, and make decisions.21 Soft skills describe personal traits, and cognitive and social skills, as well as emotional intelligence.22 They help a person thrive in a variety of roles and industries.

According to a 2020 LinkedIn survey of over 15 million jobs, there are five interpersonal skills that companies need most right now:23

  • Creativity. The trait that determines how effective you are at generating original ideas and solutions
  • Persuasion. The skill of convincing others to support your ideas, buy your solutions, or take action
  • Collaboration. The ability to work in a team towards a common goal
  • Adaptability. The ability to adapt well in a crisis – or in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situations – is a skill that helps professionals and businesses succeed when the crisis passes.24 Additionally, the leaders who are purposeful about creating a culture of flexibility in their teams produce a more resilient workforce who is able to adapt quickly to change25
  • Emotional intelligence. People who have this skill can identify and understand emotions in others and regulate their own natural emotional responses26


According to GetSmarter’s Future of Work survey of over 8,000 professionals from around the world, employees and employers alike, cited leadership and soft skills as among the most in-demand competencies for the modern workplace.27 There’s a projected growth of seven percent in leadership and management roles in the United States between 2018 and 2028,28 reflecting the importance of such skills at every job level, from junior to C-suite.

There’s an even greater demand for professionals with strong communication skills, with over nine million jobs posted in the US from 2019 to 2020, and a 2.7 percent growth expected.29 Jobs that list these skills as a prerequisite include retail store manager, restaurant manager, business development professional, account manager, project manager, account executive, operations manager, and human resource manager, to name a few. Communication skills are not just for those whose jobs empirically depend on them, such as marketing and business development, but are for all roles, including operations and technical professionals.

Fortunately, most organizations and professionals are aware of the need to acquire or update these skills. According to a 2020 survey of over 660 million professionals, the highest priority skills to learn in the workplace by 2030 include leadership and management, followed closely by creativity and communication.30

Effective communication, creativity, strategy, and negotiation are abilities that can be honed through online learning. GetSmarter’s leadership and interpersonal skills courses not only provide university-accredited material, but also include practical exercises, projects, role play, toolkits, and more. You’ll have the opportunity to develop your new skills in an academic environment before putting them to use in the workplace.

Designed to suit a busy work schedule, the GetSmarter learning model is online, flexible and personal, making it easier to upskill. Empower yourself and your team as you gain the skills you need to successfully face and adapt to rapid changes in the workplace.


1Wagner, R. (Jan, 2020). ‘What does leadership mean in an age of perpetual change?’. Retrieved from WEF.
2Ready, D. et al. (Jan, 2020). ‘The new leadership playbook for the digital age’. Retrieved from MITSloan.
3Ready, D. et al. (Jan, 2020). ‘The new leadership playbook for the digital age’. Retrieved from MITSloan.
4(Jan, 2020). ‘2020 Edelman trust barometer’. Retrieved from Edelman.
5Gyori, C. et al. (2019). ‘Leaders on purpose’. Retrieved from The Genius Works.
6Dreier, L. (Sep, 2019). ‘Systems leadership can change the world - but what is it exactly?’. Retrieved from WEF.
7Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
8(Mar, 2020). ‘GetSmarter’s 2020 career guide’. Retrieved from GetSmarter.
9Ward, S. (Apr, 2020). ‘The definition of leadership’. Retrieved from The Balance Careers.
10Doyle, A. (Aug, 2019). ‘Important leadership skills for workplace success’. Retrieved from The Balance Careers.
11Doyle, A. (Aug, 2019). ‘Important leadership skills for workplace success’. Retrieved from The Balance Careers.
12(May, 2020). ‘4 must-have skills for leaders post-Covid-19’. Retrieved from Forbes.
13Doyle, A. (Aug, 2019). ‘Important leadership skills for workplace success’. Retrieved from The Balance Careers.
14(Feb, 2020). ‘Want to be a good leader? Step one: know thyself’. Retrieved from Business News Daily.
15Economy, P. (Nd). ‘7 secrets of ‘servant leadership’ that will lead you to success’. Retrieved from Inc.com.
16(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
17(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
18(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
19(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
20(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
21Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
22Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
23Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
24(May, 2020). ‘4 must-have skills for leaders post-Covid-19’. Retrieved from Forbes.
25Adkins, S. (Dec, 2019). ‘According to this CEO, these are the leadership skills you must have in 2020’. Retrieved from Ladders.
26Kruse, K. (Apr, 2020). ‘Skill gap 2020: 5 soft skills and 10 hard skills companies need right now’. Retrieved from Forbes.
27(Feb, 2020). ‘Your future career: what skills to include on your CV’. Retrieved from GetSmarter.
28(Apr, 2020). ‘Management occupations’. Retrieved from BLS.
29Burning Glass Technologies (Jun, 2020). ‘Skills analysis (snapshot view)’. Retrieved from Burning Glass.
30Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.


Choose a leadership and interpersonal skills course

Today’s business environment is more complex than ever, with organizations and professionals needing to adapt to change on every front. Demographic shifts mean diverse, multigenerational workforces now share a space; digitization has transformed the way we work, with more professionals adopting flexible hours and operating remotely from multiple locations; and technological innovation is resulting in the creation of new job roles, the reshaping of old jobs, and the complete replacement of others.1 Leaders who want to stay relevant, diversify their skill set, and empower their employees to move forward need to develop their leadership strategy and gain the necessary capabilities to equip them for this modern workplace.

Unfortunately, many executives are still rooted in outdated mindsets and methodologies that threaten to limit and even hinder employee performance.2 In a recent survey of almost 4,400 leaders from more than 120 countries, only 12 percent of participants felt confident that their leaders had the right mindset and approach to successfully lead them forward.3 While this speaks to a global historical distrust of business, institutions, and systems of government, the majority of people believe that it is businesses – not governments – that are most capable of righting the inequalities that have caused this distrust, and of making the changes that will win their trust back.4 It’s incumbent upon business leaders to guide their organizations through transformation, and to prepare themselves and their teams for the workplace of the future. Reshaping the purpose of the organization, and its broader impact beyond its own ‘why’, will allow leaders to seize the opportunities created by disruptive global changes.5

To solve these large-scale, complex problems, a different approach to leadership is required – one that’s collaborative, humble and facilitates action, while still delivering on strong management and executive competencies.6 Although technical upskilling is a requirement for today’s leaders, soft skills – or interpersonal skills, like creativity, communication, and emotional intelligence – are among the most sought-after competencies in the modern workplace.7 Fortunately, such skills are capabilities that can be learnt and applied across different contexts, and updating them has several benefits: they make leaders more competitive in the job market, and could be the deciding factor that secures that dream job or promotion.8

What are leadership skills?

Leadership skills are used to motivate a group of people toward action in order to achieve a common objective.9 To function effectively in their roles, leaders need:

  • Communication skills. Leadership revolves around communication. Clearly and succinctly conveying goals, tasks, and feedback to employees is a key facet of leadership. Establishing two-way communication involves active listening skills and not just speaking, and requires that the leader make themselves available for communication for every tier in the business.10 Meetings and briefings can occur over different platforms, such as email, phone, or via social media, and all require their own set of skills.11 With so many employees and stakeholders now opting to work remotely, the ability to communicate effectively online and in person is a skill vital to today’s leader.12 Other types of communication skills include business storytelling, presentations, public speaking, nonverbal communication, and the ability to facilitate group conversations13
  • Self-awareness. Leaders who have this skill understand and know how to manage their own emotions and reactions. Self-awareness skills include setting boundaries, practising self-control and mindfulness, and being aware of emotional triggers and motivators14
  • The skill of serving. Servant leadership focuses on helping the team, instead of the team helping the leader. This leader employs listening and empathy to empower their team, ultimately helping them reach a common goal, while acting as a mentor throughout the process15
  • Digital literacy. Leaders with this skill spearhead the modernization of business strategy and operations by leveraging technology and creating a data literate culture16
  • Adaptability. Navigating a business through the disruptions of innovation requires the ability to adapt to change and be resilient while maintaining purpose17
  • Connectivity. An increasingly dispersed workforce means leaders of today need to connect with people, inspire greater collaboration, and create a sense of cohesiveness, be it in-person or virtually18
  • The ability to relate. In a technology-rich environment, leaders need to demonstrate empathy and inclusivity in order to relate to others on a truly human level and bring balance to the workplace19
  • Holistic, innovative thinking. Intellectual curiosity and a holistic view of any given situation allows leaders to think differently and come up with creative and innovative options20

What are interpersonal skills?

Where hard skills pertain to the tasks carried out by an employee, soft skills relate to the way an employee completes these tasks, and how they adjust, work with others, solve problems, and make decisions.21 Soft skills describe personal traits, and cognitive and social skills, as well as emotional intelligence.22 They help a person thrive in a variety of roles and industries.

According to a 2020 LinkedIn survey of over 15 million jobs, there are five interpersonal skills that companies need most right now:23

  • Creativity. The trait that determines how effective you are at generating original ideas and solutions
  • Persuasion. The skill of convincing others to support your ideas, buy your solutions, or take action
  • Collaboration. The ability to work in a team towards a common goal
  • Adaptability. The ability to adapt well in a crisis – or in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situations – is a skill that helps professionals and businesses succeed when the crisis passes.24 Additionally, the leaders who are purposeful about creating a culture of flexibility in their teams produce a more resilient workforce who is able to adapt quickly to change25
  • Emotional intelligence. People who have this skill can identify and understand emotions in others and regulate their own natural emotional responses26

The demand for leadership and interpersonal skills in the workplace

According to GetSmarter’s Future of Work survey of over 8,000 professionals from around the world, employees and employers alike, cited leadership and soft skills as among the most in-demand competencies for the modern workplace.27 There’s a projected growth of seven percent in leadership and management roles in the United States between 2018 and 2028,28 reflecting the importance of such skills at every job level, from junior to C-suite.

There’s an even greater demand for professionals with strong communication skills, with over nine million jobs posted in the US from 2019 to 2020, and a 2.7 percent growth expected.29 Jobs that list these skills as a prerequisite include retail store manager, restaurant manager, business development professional, account manager, project manager, account executive, operations manager, and human resource manager, to name a few. Communication skills are not just for those whose jobs empirically depend on them, such as marketing and business development, but are for all roles, including operations and technical professionals.

Fortunately, most organizations and professionals are aware of the need to acquire or update these skills. According to a 2020 survey of over 660 million professionals, the highest priority skills to learn in the workplace by 2030 include leadership and management, followed closely by creativity and communication.30

Effective communication, creativity, strategy, and negotiation are abilities that can be honed through online learning. GetSmarter’s leadership and interpersonal skills courses not only provide university-accredited material, but also include practical exercises, projects, role play, toolkits, and more. You’ll have the opportunity to develop your new skills in an academic environment before putting them to use in the workplace.

Designed to suit a busy work schedule, the GetSmarter learning model is online, flexible and personal, making it easier to upskill. Empower yourself and your team as you gain the skills you need to successfully face and adapt to rapid changes in the workplace.

Sources

1Wagner, R. (Jan, 2020). ‘What does leadership mean in an age of perpetual change?’. Retrieved from WEF.
2Ready, D. et al. (Jan, 2020). ‘The new leadership playbook for the digital age’. Retrieved from MITSloan.
3Ready, D. et al. (Jan, 2020). ‘The new leadership playbook for the digital age’. Retrieved from MITSloan.
4(Jan, 2020). ‘2020 Edelman trust barometer’. Retrieved from Edelman.
5Gyori, C. et al. (2019). ‘Leaders on purpose’. Retrieved from The Genius Works.
6Dreier, L. (Sep, 2019). ‘Systems leadership can change the world - but what is it exactly?’. Retrieved from WEF.
7Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
8(Mar, 2020). ‘GetSmarter’s 2020 career guide’. Retrieved from GetSmarter.
9Ward, S. (Apr, 2020). ‘The definition of leadership’. Retrieved from The Balance Careers.
10Doyle, A. (Aug, 2019). ‘Important leadership skills for workplace success’. Retrieved from The Balance Careers.
11Doyle, A. (Aug, 2019). ‘Important leadership skills for workplace success’. Retrieved from The Balance Careers.
12(May, 2020). ‘4 must-have skills for leaders post-Covid-19’. Retrieved from Forbes.
13Doyle, A. (Aug, 2019). ‘Important leadership skills for workplace success’. Retrieved from The Balance Careers.
14(Feb, 2020). ‘Want to be a good leader? Step one: know thyself’. Retrieved from Business News Daily.
15Economy, P. (Nd). ‘7 secrets of ‘servant leadership’ that will lead you to success’. Retrieved from Inc.com.
16(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
17(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
18(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
19(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
20(2018). ‘Global leadership forecast 2018’. Retrieved from DDI.
21Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
22Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
23Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
24(May, 2020). ‘4 must-have skills for leaders post-Covid-19’. Retrieved from Forbes.
25Adkins, S. (Dec, 2019). ‘According to this CEO, these are the leadership skills you must have in 2020’. Retrieved from Ladders.
26Kruse, K. (Apr, 2020). ‘Skill gap 2020: 5 soft skills and 10 hard skills companies need right now’. Retrieved from Forbes.
27(Feb, 2020). ‘Your future career: what skills to include on your CV’. Retrieved from GetSmarter.
28(Apr, 2020). ‘Management occupations’. Retrieved from BLS.
29Burning Glass Technologies (Jun, 2020). ‘Skills analysis (snapshot view)’. Retrieved from Burning Glass.
30Anderson, B. (Jan, 2020). ‘The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020’. Retrieved from LinkedIn.

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