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10 Soft Skills Essential for Tech Executives in 2024

The Betts Team
June 12, 2024

When hiring tech executives in 2024, it is important that candidates not only possess technical expertise but also the soft skills they need to guide and run their teams, which is why we’re breaking down the top 10 essential soft skills a tech exec needs in order to be successful. The technology sector and many of its critical go-to-market (GTM) roles face new challenges in the post-pandemic world. Team leaders need to be able to balance being able to proactively engage the professionals under their direction personally while ensuring that results are achieved. In the latest edition of the Betts Executive Compensation Guide, we outline many of the biggest hiring and salary trends impacting leadership jobs in the world of tech startups over the past year, including the top soft skills that are essential for new exec hires to have.

Keep reading below to see which skill sets made the cut and how these affect the role of executives in technology for 2024:

Sourcing Executive Candidates with the Right Soft Skills

The past few years have been a whirlwind for the tech sector, from rapid growth to widespread hiring and funding freezes, as well as the stagnation of many SaaS markets while AI rises above all to take over the world (hopefully not like in the movies, though). The industry has come out of the post-pandemic years changed after many reevaluations and hard pivots. Some of these changes are still ongoing, including the switch back to in-office work from remote and hybrid teams. These many evolutions have produced a new major focus when it comes to talent acquisition in the space – recruiting candidates that are not just experienced and knowledgeable, but also the right fit for sales motions and culture.

With return-to-office (RTO) policies slowly gaining traction, it has become clear that not everyone’s social skills emerged from remote work intact. This has created a greater need for leaders that can provide empathy as well as professional direction and guidance, all while still ensuring their teams execute on their tasks, meet their goals and continue to scale upwards. While technical expertise can always be trained, these types of skill sets are earned in the field and exec candidates that can demonstrate they bring the right kind of experience can command greater compensation rates than those that cannot.

With this in mind, here are the top 10 essential soft skills tech executives need in 2024:

1. Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration are integral to ensuring teams run efficiently and effectively. Knowing how to achieve this is a vital part of being a leader in a modern tech landscape where many employees may be scattered across the country.

Key Components:

  • Active Listening: Fully concentrating, understanding, retaining and being able to respond to what is being said
  • Constructive Feedback: Providing feedback that is both positive and aimed at improving performance
  • Open Dialogue: Encouraging open discussions where all team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns

How to Evaluate:

Employ role-playing scenarios or ask the candidate for examples of successful cross-team content collaborations they took charge of in the past. Mastering these skills is especially crucial for potential C-suite officers, who must be able to convey complex ideas clearly in a remote or hybrid work environment.

2. Adaptability

Being able to adapt to the continuous change and evolution of processes and challenges in today’s technology landscape is a must for any executive running a department in the current, very dynamic technology market. 

Key Components:

  • Flexibility: The ability to adjust quickly to new conditions
  • Problem-Solving: Finding effective solutions to unexpected problems
  • Focus: Staying focused on goals even amidst shifts in the market

How to Evaluate:

Ask your candidate to describe a time where they were forced to adapt to unexpected changes or a challenge that suddenly emerged, and how they navigated through the situation and what were the short and long-term results.

3. Leadership

Leadership is an obvious quality that’s needed of a leader, but not every candidate will have it. More than this is a requirement to ensure teams have the right guidance and direction to achieve their goals, and keep the work environment running smoothly.

Key Components:

  • Communicating Vision: Having a clear idea of what needs to be achieved
  • Empowerment: Enabling team members to take initiative and responsibility
  • Encourage Development: Helping team members grow professionally

How to Evaluate:

Ask the candidate to explain their leadership philosophy, go over experiences that demonstrate their abilities, and request good, old-fashioned references that can validate their background. 

4. Empathy

One of the most important prerequisites for a tech executive in 2024 is the ability to display and provide empathy for their teams, maintaining interpersonal relationships, and promoting understanding and inclusivity between team members.

Key Components:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Recognizing and managing your own and others’ emotions
  • Inclusivity: Promoting diversity and ensuring everyone feels valued
  • Compassion: Showing genuine care and concern for others’ well-being.

How to Evaluate:

Ask questions that will specifically assess the candidate’s ability to understand others’ unique perspectives as well as display empathy when handling conflicts between people. You can also construct a scenario to test them involving working with a difficult employee and see how they approach the situation. 

5. Strategic Thinking

A strategic thinking mindset is crucial to being able to plan effectively for all circumstances, and ensure that GTM teams are armed with what they need to fulfill objectives.

Key Components:

  • Analytical Skills: Breaking down complex problems to make informed decisions
  • Planning: Developing long-term plans to achieve objectives
  • Foresight: Anticipating future trends and challenges

How to Evaluate:

Present your candidate with a scenario that requires the level of strategic insight and planning you are looking for. Ask them to articulate their approach for all steps and provide their reasoning for every part.

6. Decision-Making

Executive leaders need to be ready to make informed decisions that will have a significant impact on their teams and often the whole organization. 

Key Components:

  • Critical Thinking: Analyzing situations to make reasoned judgments
  • Risk Management: Evaluating potential risks and benefits before making decisions
  • Decisiveness: Making timely decisions and taking responsibility for the outcomes

How to Evaluate:

Ask the candidate to outline their decision-making processes in detail, including explaining different ways they source and gather information as well as how they weigh potential decisions with this information before deciding on a final course. Tech executives – especially at the VP or C-suite level – are going to have to be ready and able to make decisions under pressure that can have a considerable impact on the organization’s success.

7. Networking

Networking is a vital component of a modern exec’s career path, allowing them to build professional relationships that can provide support, opportunities and growth for themselves as well as for the organization at key points.

Key Components:

  • Relationship Building: Establishing meaningful and mutually beneficial connections
  • Industry Events: Participating in relevant events to build connections.
  • Communities: Engaging in networks of professionals in similar roles

How to Evaluate:

See how often the candidate involves themselves in different events, onlines communities, mentorship programs or any other channels that could be used to build and maintain interpersonal relationships throughout their field. Being able to build a strong professional network can open doors to new opportunities and strategic partnerships down the line.

8. Conflict Resolution

Beyond just promoting communication and empathy, seeking candidates that have demonstrable conflict resolution skills goes a long way towards ensuring teams retain their cohesion and a safe, productive and collaborative environment.

Key Components:

  • Issue Identification: Recognizing the root causes of conflicts
  • Mediation: Facilitating open and constructive dialogues between conflicting parties
  • Finding Solutions: Developing solutions that are acceptable to all parties involved

How to Evaluate:

Present your candidate with a scenario that lets them demonstrate their ability to resolve conflicts between different team members, and see how exactly they approach resolving these disagreements. This is very important for every executive-level role, from Chief Officers down to Directors.

9. Resilience

Resilience is defined by the ability to face challenges and continue to strive for effectiveness or even thrive in the midst of the adversity, a very important characteristic in the modern SaaS landscape.

Key Components:

  • Overcoming Setbacks: Bouncing back from failures.
  • Motivation: Keeping oneself and others motivated despite difficulties.
  • Positive Outlook: Viewing challenges as opportunities for growth.

How to Evaluate:

Ask your candidate to describe experiences where they faced difficult professional situations and how they eventually overcame these setbacks. This will go a long way towards showing you how well they are able to keep their teams focused and morale up even when things are not at their best.

10. Continuous Learning

Amidst the constant changes in tech, it is increasingly important that everyone in a leadership role remains open to continuous self-development, education and training to round out their knowledge and prepare themselves for new waves in the market.

Key Components:

  • Professional Development: Engaging in ongoing learning and skill development
  • Market Research: Keeping abreast of emerging trends and technologies
  • Curiosity: A strong desire to learn and explore new ideas

How to Evaluate:

Ask your candidate if they commit to ongoing professional self-development and what this looks like for them, including their approach to staying up to date with the latest trends in the industry. This is especially important for anyone you consider hiring for the C-suite, as they must be able to lead the charge on new developments and have an understanding of emerging technologies. 

Refine Your Executive Search at Scale with Betts Recruiting

Talent acquisition in tech continues to evolve, and what your unicorn candidate for an open executive position will change according to both their job and what your current sales motion looks like. Betts Recruiting will help stay on top of the latest trends and data in the industry, from real-time compensation ranges to hiring trends throughout every SaaS market – get in touch with our team today to learn more.

Contact Betts today to learn more about the most essential skill sets executives need in this modern tech landscape, and other key requirements to look for when hiring top leadership talent.