The Importance of Interpersonal Skills in Leadership

Good leadership is crucial for a business to succeed, and today’s leaders need strong interpersonal skills to lead more effectively. This article covers the importance of interpersonal skills in leadership.

What Is Interpersonal Leadership?

Interpersonal skills, also known as soft skills, refer to the ability to communicate, interact, and build relationships with others effectively. Leaders with strong interpersonal skills inspire, motivate, and empower their teams to achieve common goals. These leaders foster a positive work environment, which is crucial for the success of a business.

Why Are Interpersonal Skills Important in Leadership?

People with strong interpersonal skills are great leaders because they effectively communicate, resolve conflicts, and motivate employees in their teams. Here’s why interpersonal skills are important in leadership:

1. Effective Communication

Communication is the key to effective leadership. Leaders must convey ideas, expectations, and feedback clearly and concisely to team members. If not, the goals won’t align, and information won’t flow smoothly among the employees, affecting productivity.

According to a survey by Interact, 91 percent of 1,000 employees said good communication is the one critical skill their bosses lack. Poor communication impacts productivity.

2. Conflict Resolution

Conflicts arise in the workplace, and leaders have to manage them effectively. Role ambiguity, workload allocation, and personality clashes are common conflicts that show up in a workplace.

Leaders with strong interpersonal skills resolve conflicts constructively by addressing issues promptly and finding mutually beneficial solutions. They listen to all parties involved and ensure the solution is diplomatic.

3. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of those you lead. When leaders put themselves in others’ shoes, they can better address the needs of their employees.

According to a survey by EY Consulting, empathy between leaders and employees increases:

  • Efficiency by 88%
  • Job satisfaction by 87%
  • Innovation by 86% 
  • Company revenue by 81%

4. Active Listening

Active listening means paying attention, understanding, and engaging with what someone is saying in a conversation. It’s another interpersonal skill that leaders need to have to collaborate effectively with employees and build trust.

Internal listening — pretending to listen to the speaker but you’re focusing on your inner thoughts — is a barrier to effective leadership.

5. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is the ability to recognise, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as those of others. Leaders need high EQ to handle stress, manage emotions, inspire confidence, resolve conflicts, and create a positive workplace.

Here’s a quick emotional intelligence test

6. Building Trust and Relationships

Effective leaders invest time and effort to build strong connections with their teams. It helps establish trust and improve productivity.

Building trust and relationships isn’t just about surface-level interactions. Instead, it’s about genuinely caring about your team members’ well-being, understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and supporting them in their professional growth. By doing so, everyone will feel valued and motivated to give their best.

Ken’s Visionary Leadership: An Example to Follow

Ken is a visionary leader, business strategist, author, and producer of the Voices of Courage show, syndicated in 185 countries. He’s known for his passion for helping people reach their fullest potential.

As a visionary leader, Ken sees possibilities that others view as roadblocks. He’s always thinking ahead, pushing boundaries, and encouraging others to do the same. He has the courage to do things beyond expectations.

Ken has exceptional interpersonal skills that help him connect deeply with others around him. Whether interacting with team members or clients, Ken takes the time to understand their needs, perspectives, and concerns.

Ken values his teammates’ unique strengths and contributions and ensures everyone feels heard, valued, and supported. He also inspires and motivates them to reach their full potential.


Can I learn and improve my interpersonal leadership skills?

Of course. Practice, feedback, and introspection (self-reflection) help improve your interpersonal skills in leadership.

What are some common challenges in developing interpersonal leadership skills?

  • Overcoming personal biases
  • Overcoming fear 
  • Adapting to diverse communication styles
  • Handling high-pressure situations
  • Balancing assertiveness and empathy

Can leaders be successful without strong interpersonal skills?

It’s difficult. Technical skills are important. However, you can’t become a successful leader without interpersonal skills like communication, active listening, and conflict resolution.

The Final Word

Interpersonal skills are vital for effective leadership. If you have technical expertise and strategic vision but can’t connect, communicate, or collaborate effectively with others, you can be an employee but not a leader. If you want to succeed as a leader, keep putting in the effort to develop your interpersonal skills.

If you want to become a better leader and want an expert’s guidance on it, get in touch with Ken D Foster. With over 30 years of experience as a visionary leader, Ken will coach you to improve your interpersonal skills. He will also help you discover your leadership desires, define your vision, and realise your potential.