Soft skills for executive candidates

What sets exceptional leaders apart from merely competent ones? The answer to this question has become much more complex with the rapidly changing business landscape. Today, experience, education, and technical skills aren’t the only factors employers are seeking in executive candidates. It is their ability to perform under pressure and communicate effectively that distinguishes them from other candidates.

What Are Soft Skills?

Unlike “hard” or technical skills, soft skills are your behavioral traits and interpersonal skills in a professional setting. These skills help you communicate effectively with stakeholders, make important decisions in challenging circumstances, and collaborate with others.

According to a study published by the Carnegie Foundation, only 15% of your job success comes from hard skills. 85% of it comes from your soft skills. Hence, a reputable candidate assessment service in NY ensures the evaluation of a candidate’s hard and soft skills before deeming them the right fit for a company.

What Soft Skills Should Executives Have?

An employee mentoring other employees

While hard skills require formal training, soft skills generally don’t. The good news is we all have them in various capacities. The even better news is that they can be developed if one doesn’t have them naturally. In a nutshell, here are the 6 most important soft skills for executive candidates:

  • Delegation
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Mentoring
  • Adaptability


Delegation is one of the most important soft skills for executive candidates. As opposed to simply dumping jobs on someone, delegation requires effective communication of what is expected as the outcome and the absence of micromanagement.

In a nutshell, successful executive will set their staff with all the skills and knowledge required to complete a task, and they will also be present to assist them when needed.


Strong communication skills are a must for anyone. For an executive, they’re even more important. For one, such skills enable you to close deals with investors, communicate effectively with other stakeholders, and generally improve your teamwork capabilities.

According to a report, “The Cost of Poor Communications,” around 400 companies with 100,000 employees acknowledged that they each suffered a loss of $62.4 million per year due to poor communication between employees. Executives must realize that communication is a two-way street and being a great listener is just as important as being a great speaker.

Any reputable CFO recruitment agency in NY will tell you how much candidates yearn to be respected in their workplaces. An important part of communicating effectively is letting your team members know they are valuable to the company.


Great problem solvers are the ones who address problems with an open mind. They have an eagle-eye view that helps them harness their curiosity and look at every aspect of a problem carefully.

According to the book, “The ‘Why’ Behind Asking Why,” curiosity is a fundamental human trait. Several economists also agree that solving team problems requires putting a question mark on your own solutions. Remember, your first-cut answers won’t always be your best answers. You must determine multiple solution paths by asking yourself a simple question:

Why is this solution better than that one?

Conflict Resolution

Every workplace has conflicts. But, not every workplace has executives who are well-versed in conflict resolution. And so, it’s naturally one of the most sought-after soft skills for executive candidates. Some of the best conflict resolution tactics involve a blend of the following skills:

  • Staying impartial
  • Seeking feedback
  • Listening actively

Leaders with the best conflict resolution skills have the ability to calm heightened emotions and listen to every aspect of the story. In fact, according to a Harvard Business Review, listening is not only an overlooked leadership skill, but it’s also a discipline and an art that not many excel at.


Did you know that about 84% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs? This shows how important it is for leaders to also be mentors.

An executive’s job doesn’t end at simply speaking to and listening to their team members. They must also excel at mentorship or the ability to build leadership skills in individuals. Mentoring does not always have to be intentional. It often reflects in a leader’s own persona and actions that align with a company’s goal. However, effective mentoring has to do with the following:

  • Being honest and open about your own mistakes
  • Taking an interest in team members as people
  • Conducting sessions in each quarter to determine and deal with new problems

Hence, a reliable and reputable New York executive search firm looks for a mentor and leader in the same candidate.


An executive’s ability to adapt to changes will always take precedence over every other hard skill they’ve ever learned. By demonstrating flexibility in their own role, they can also encourage others to be flexible. Effective leaders know the “hows,” “whys,” and “whens” of coping with new situations. This is why they’re also able to be a solid support system for their teammates.

According to this Yale University research, there are some ways to champion change, such as:

  • Determining what you can and cannot control
  • Considering new responsibilities and roles
  • Being responsive to new information
  • Staying up-to-date with the changing trends of the industry
  • Suggesting new ways to facilitate work processes
  • Committing to personal development

Great executives understand that change is a natural part of life. They are able to make peace with the fact that nothing can stay the same forever. They resist the urge to fight change and make an active effort to flow with it, no matter how challenging it may be.

What Soft Skills Do the Best Leaders Have In Common?

According to the World Economic Forum, some of the best leaders in the business world have the following “non-technical” skills in common:

  • Persistence
  • Influence
  • Organizational skills
  • Bold and courageous decision making
  • Zooming in on problems to find the root cause and zooming out to see the possible solutions
  • Focused work ethic
  • Ability to mentor and develop the right people
  • Clear vision
  • Multi-functional thinking
  • Leveraging resources effectively
  • Anticipating problems before they become problems
  • Strategic worldview

In short, the stated soft skills for executive candidates can help recruitment experts find the best fit for any company.

However, as one of the best New York Executive Headhunters NY, Cochran, Cochran & Yale has the skills and knowledge to recruit executives with the stated soft skills for your company. In 40 years of its services, the firm has assisted various industries in their efforts to hire skillful executives.

At CCY, we combine 40 years of experience with real-time market intelligence to get you what you desire in an executive candidate. For more details about how we can assist your recruitment efforts, contact New York City Executive Search Firm today.