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10 smart — not soft — skills for leaders

By | Meredith Somers |

Since the 1970s when the U.S. Army actively began training soldiers in “important job-related skills that involve little or no interaction with machines,” organizations have cultivated soft skills among their leadership and teams.

But after 50 years of categorizing qualities like problem solver, strong communicator, and good listener as “soft,” it’s time for a change, according to MIT Sloan international faculty fellow Loredana Padurean.

“Pitching and presenting projects is not a tender act. Handling and delivering critical feedback is not mild, and dealing with office politics is certainly not for the weak. So why do we still refer to them as soft?” writes Padurean in her new book “The Job Is Easy, The People Are Not!

Padurean is the associate dean and faculty director for action learning at the Asia School of Business, an education partner with MIT Sloan. She also co-teaches an MIT Sloan Executive Education course on strategic innovation for leaders and entrepreneurs.

In her book, Padurean outlines 10 “smart” skills to help managers navigate what she says is the one variable that always creates complexity: people.

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