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Team Effectiveness

Hard Skills or Soft Skills: Is One More Valuable?

Hard Skills and Soft Skills Is One More Valuable

Harnessing Both in the Workplace

There is more to successful leadership than just understanding how to work with others and execute necessary goals or objectives. Leadership requires a variety of skills to ensure an organization is working effectively, with the combination of both hard and soft skills contributing to a leader and team’s mutual success.


In the realm of professional development, there has been a decade-long debate—are hard or soft skills better? Those who favor hard skills argue that technical abilities and proficiencies in a specific area are what make the world turn. Without hard skills as a primary driver of success, who’s to say we would be as advanced of a society as we are today?

Conversely, people who favor soft skills argue that they are the foundation of any personal or professional relationship. Without emotional intelligence, communication abilities, and interpersonal collaboration, there would be no room to expand on hard skills that further society.

The debate continues—but is one more valuable than the other?

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Knowing the difference between hard and soft skills is vital for any leader, but both are necessary in any career field or position. In simple terms, the difference between hard and soft skills lies in how they were obtained.

Hard skills are defined as skills obtained through hands-on experience or education in a specific subject or career field, often prerequisites for a position. For most jobs, hard skills are career-specific and are eagerly sought after by employers. Examples of hard skills include:

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Healthcare Specifications
  • Automotive Repair
  • Language Proficiency
  • Accounting
  • Coding

Many of these hard skills are learned over time through education, schooling, training programs, and courses that take many years of refinement to obtain formal knowledge in. All of these skills are very technical, though none of them are inherently instinctual.

Soft skills are interpersonal and often personality based. Think about it—did you ever start your day with the instinct to start accounting? For most of us, no, yet many of it is instinctual to start your day with a quick chat by the coffee bar with a coworker or a short conversation on Microsoft Teams. Some soft skills are the driver behind why you are drawn to certain hard skills and job types—they are difficult to measure, but they are undeniable insights into what makes up a person. Examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Time Management
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Self-Awareness

Often referred to as people skills, soft skills vary from person to person, with some soft skills being innate and others honed and mastered over time.

A Mesh of Both Skillsets

In the ongoing debate about which skills are more valuable, it’s important to understand that both hard and soft skills work in unison. Hard skills can give someone the tools and technical expertise to execute a job or task, but soft skills are what drive successful leadership and teamwork.

Imagine a hypothetical scenario where you hire two individuals for a project—one with strong hard skills but lacking in soft skills, and the other with weaker hard skills, but great soft skills. The individual with strong hard skills may be able to complete tasks efficiently, however their lack of communication may hinder their ability to work effectively with their team. In contrast, the individual with strong soft skills will excel at collaborating and working well within a team, leading to a more successful project outcome.

It's clear that both hard and soft skills are necessary for success, especially in leadership positions. While hard skills may be seen as the foundation of a job, it's important to remember that soft skills are what allow a leader to effectively communicate, manage conflicts, and build strong relationships with their team. Without the combination of both types of skills, true success is more a challenging to achieve.

When teams work well together, it is transformational. The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team is a proven resource that introduces key concepts of teaming and facilitates a mechanism for sustained cohesiveness. Follow the link below to register for our upcoming webinar and explore how The Five Behaviors® can positively impact your team:

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Kara Janssen

Kara Janssen creates engaging content that connects our clients to the FlashPoint brand and mission, helping them grow as leaders.