Learning the soft skills of leadership

Rowena Crosbie (Rowena Crosbie is President, Tero International Inc., West Des Moines, Iowa, USA.)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Publication date: 1 January 2005



To challenge the role of training as a single methodology for the development of personal and interpersonal “soft skills” for leaders.


To make a case for the importance of soft skills development for leaders and then to explore the role of training, along with other critical elements, in helping leaders develop these skills. This is done through an explanation of the complex process of learning.


Learning takes time and the learning of the complex personal and interpersonal skills of leadership takes even more time. Statistical analysis supports the recommended methodology outlined in this paper.

Research limitations/implications

The research cited in this paper is a representative sample from research collected over five different leadership development programs studied. Although the methodology used was consistent from program to program, each program was highly customized, by design, to meet the unique needs of the specific organization, thus potentially compromising the measurement/research from a strictly academic perspective.

Practical implications

Organizations undertaking a leadership development initiative are encouraged to look beyond simply evaluating training programs. Success depends not only on effective training but also on such important elements as expert facilitation, contextual awareness, formal and informal support, real‐world application, self‐study, self‐awareness, stress and celebration.


The ability to accurately assess the effectiveness of training in the soft skills arena has long been debated. This paper, drawn from extensive research conducted by Tero® International offers insight on this subject. A white paper was expected to be available near the end of 2004.



Crosbie, R. (2005), "Learning the soft skills of leadership", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 45-51. https://doi.org/10.1108/00197850510576484

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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