The European Business Review


The article introduces the concept of “soft leadership” and illustrates what differentiates soft leadership from hard leadership, and explores how to acquire six characteristics – character, conscience, courage, compassion, commitment, and contribution to excel as successful women leaders and CEOs based on the practice of soft leadership.

"Our emerging workforce is not interested in command and control leadership. They don't want to do things because I said so, they want to do things because they want to do them." – Irene Rosenfield

Soft leadership is a new leadership perspective that is closely connected with women leadership. Hence, we will discuss soft leadership and its relevance to women leadership. Women leadership can be defined as the process of women leading from the front with an example by managing the emotions, egos, and feelings of all people especially men by breaking the glass ceiling to accomplish organisational goals and objectives.

What is Soft Leadership?

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

There are 11 Cs that constitute soft leadership – character, charisma, conscience, conviction, courage, communication, compassion, commitment, consistency, consideration, and contribution. Here are the inspiring examples connected with each C. Mahatma Gandhi is associated with character, Mikhail Gorbachev with charisma, Martin Luther King Jr. with conscience, Aung San Sui Kyi with convictions, Alexander the Great with courage, Winston Churchill with communication, Mother Teresa with compassion, Nelson Mandela with commitment, John Wesley with consistency, Dalai Lama with consideration, and Booker T. Washington with contribution. It is highly challenging for people to cultivate these 11 characteristics. However, if people possess more than six traits they get into the fold of soft leadership.

The author requested Dave Ulrich, father of modern HR who is his good friend, to create leadership code and the latter consented and mapped 11 Cs onto leadership code thus giving sanctity to soft leadership.

Soft leadership is

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