6 Soft Skills Every Leader Should Have

Have you noticed that how we view leadership is evolving? Soft skills like compassion and empathy are beginning to see the validation they deserve in the leadership scope.

Leadership is changing. Slowly but surely we are defining leaders by what they do, not their title or what they look like. As we transition into this new era of leadership - it’s important to reflect on what truly makes someone a great leader and the skills to refine as you take on that role.

I spend time with many leaders in my job as a growth advisor for franchisors and business owners. I see and hear again and again the value of soft skills in leadership. Not the volume at which someone speaks or their ability to command a room - but the ability to influence and inspire others to discover and chase their own greatness.

Who is a Leader?
When I say “leader” I don’t necessarily mean the CEO or founder of a company - leadership is for anyone who has influence over their peers or those around them. I often find leaders in all levels and in every department in a company. Being a leader is more about the expertise, trust, and influence you have - not the title on your resume.

These days becoming a leader is easier than ever before because your breadth of knowledge and influence can be shared quickly and easily via social media. With the ability to establish oneself as a leader (literally) at your fingertips, it is now more important than ever to know how to be an effective leader.

Leadership in Franchising and Business
Leadership in a business is, of course, highly important. But leadership has a particularly prominent importance in the franchise industry due to the unique and dynamic relationships between franchisors and franchisees, as well as the relationship between franchisees and their teams. With more levels of leadership comes an even greater importance for positive, effective leaders. On that note, let’s dive into my six key traits of a successful leader.

Here are the 6 key traits that I personally believe make a great leader - taken from those I see exemplifying these qualities to my decades of experience in the franchising industry as a franchisor, franchisee, and CEO.

When leaders demonstrate introspection they create more positivity, openness, and responsibility within the company. Not bad for a soft skill!..”

Action Oriented
Through taking action, we learn and then we grow. Even if by taking that action, we realize it didn’t move us forward, we can look at it as a lesson and confirmation of what doesn’t work, which, in my opinion, actually IS forward movement. Leaders have the courage to take risks, demonstrate action and show that it is OKAY to fail.

Purpose Driven
Every leader has days when they don’t want to get out of bed. This is why leaders need to be super clear on their PURPOSE. Motivation comes from a mission. This mission could be anything from saving the whales to paying off debt to creating educational programs for kids to learn to code. Whatever the purpose is, leaders need to use that purpose as their motivation and share that purpose with those around them

The ability to be transparent with your franchisees or your team is essential to building trust in you and/or the company. When we don’t know WHY something is being done, human nature is to make up stories or assumptions about what is happening. This can be detrimental because we often assume the worst! Being honest with your team by sharing key metrics or being honest when something does not go to plan can help align your team and create loyalty.

When leaders listen to their team it creates buy-in. Listening and responding with compassion is a skill that will take you far. Everyone in a franchise system or company desires to be heard, understood, and valued, so taking the time to listen is following that basic principle, “Treat people the way you would want to be treated”.

To be clear, being empathetic does not mean getting walked all over by your team or kissing up to people. You can be incredible at listening and understanding those around you while also being firm with your decisions.

“…. Whatever the purpose is, leaders need to use that purpose as their motivation and share that purpose with those around them... ”

When people show they are not superhuman, it makes them a lot more relatable. Especially in the world of social media and connecting with your team virtually, it is important to share unpolished, raw content to better connect with our teams and audience. We connect with people we relate to, and being vulnerable, imperfect, and human is the most relatable thing you can do - it’s a universal experience.

Showing vulnerability could be admitting when you don’t know something, or sharing when you are nervous. By opening up to your team or franchisees you will create a stronger connection and show that they can trust that you are authentic.

Being introspective means you are self aware of your mistakes and mindset. So when you make a mistake...Take. The. Blame. When you take ownership of your mistakes and share how you are improving, you open the doors for others to do the same - that’s where growth and improvement comes from!

When leaders demonstrate introspection they create more positivity, openness, and responsibility within the company. Not bad for a soft skill!
If this gets your wheels turning and you’re interested in digging deeper into HOW to adopt these traits so you can be the influential leader you were meant to be, feel free to reach out or follow me on social media. We are here to help!


Angela Coté

Angela Coté

Franchise Growth Catalyst and CEO of Angela Coté Inc