The Softer Side of Leadership

As the modern workplace evolves, a successful partnership between empathy and leadership is becoming increasingly important.

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An article I read shed some light on IT Leadership by providing valuable advice to focus in on what may appear obvious concepts at first glance. But how often do you take the time to really focus on them?

When we take a brief from the clients that we work with, something we will always focus on as their executive search partner is what it is like to work for their team.  When I reflect on the work we have been doing for one particular client, one of the key reasons for our success was the time taken to understand these softer skills.

For this particular client we have delivered multiple hires, building sales teams, engineering teams, cloud and software development as well as supply chain. A common theme with each hiring manager was a comment on how far attitude and aptitude would go to secure the right talent.

While the actual ability of a candidate to perform the role will always be very important, their attitude and enthusiasm would also take them a long way. When reflecting it was obvious that this made the difference.

But I cannot stress enough how important the relationship is between us as the headhunter, and our client to allow us to get this right. To be brave enough to not submit the perfect looking candidate because the fit in the team is not there, and on the other side of this, to recommend candidates who are not a 100% fit technically but would add value to the team with their cultural fit - to be brave enough to do this we need to have that partnership.

If we;

  • Know who they are being led by
  • Understand the dynamics of the team
  • Recognise what soft skills are valued by the hiring manager
  • Have knowledge of the success stories within the team - this could be in terms of projects or individual growth and contribution
  • Have consistent communication throughout the hiring process

...then we have a much better chance of getting this right for you. 

And all this comes back to the title of this blog and the subject of the article I have shared.


For your leaders to be able to hire effectively they need to be supported as well. If your IT or Engineering leaders need to become "more people-oriented and focus on increasing emotional intelligence" - do they have the tools to do this? After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. Perhaps as an organization you need to take the time to look at leadership development or leadership coaching?

If you want to maximize the chances of your team leaders being able to hire great people, help them to increase their awareness and capabilities around emotional intelligence and support. It will also go a long way to improve the working relationship they have with us as executive search partners.

This is a great article as an introduction to soft skills for leaders. But if you want something more in depth, we at Collingwood Executive Search also provide leadership training and executive coaching.


About the author
Doug Mackay
5 min read

Having started his career in Executive Search in 1998, Doug set up Collingwood in 2005 alongside his wife, Claire Mackay.

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