The Five Hardest “Soft” Skills Every Nonprofit Leader Needs (Dr. Shirley Davis)

November 2023

What are the critical soft skills nonprofit leaders must master? In episode #236 of Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership, global workforce expert Dr. Shirley Davis explores why leadership skills and competencies have shifted over the past few years away from the technical and other "hard" skills to "soft" skills which can be harder to demonstrate. She shares her top five soft skills every nonprofit leader should embody to attract and retain today's talent. Shirley explains why soft skills have the greatest impact on an employee's experience and how nonprofit leaders can develop and improve these skills if they want to achieve high performance and engagement from their workers.

"Toss out the one-size-fits-all leadership approaches, because the workforce is not a monolith." 



Dr. Shirley Davis is a sought-after global workforce expert, national board director for Make-A-Wish Foundation, and president and CEO of SDS Global Enterprises, a strategic development solutions firm that specializes in human resources strategy, talent management, leadership effectiveness, culture transformation and diversity, equity & inclusion. Dr. Davis has over thirty years of business experience in a variety of senior executive leadership roles in Fortune 100 & 50 corporations. Her work has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Oprah Daily, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, NBC's Today Show, USA Today, NPR, CBS News, Fox News,, HR Magazine, and many others. She was inducted into Inclusion Magazine's Hall of Fame for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in November 2021, and in August 2022 was awarded The Golden Gavel Award which is Toastmasters International's highest and most prestigious award given to one person each year based on Leadership and Communication Impact. She was nominated for Forbes 2021 Women 50 Over 50 list and again in 2022. Dr. Davis has worked in over 30 countries on 5 continents and delivers over 100 speeches a year. She served on the Board of Directors and the Foundation Board for the National Speakers Association (2017-2021). In 2021, she was named to the national board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and will serve a four-year term. She holds a Bachelor's in Pre-Law, a Master's in Adult Education; a second Master's in Human Resource Management, and a Ph.D. in Business and Organizational Leadership.