Examining the qualities of feminine leadership requires us to explore power, how it is expressed and it’s outcomes. It inevitably results in the need to draw parallels between hard power and soft power. The latter is a quality attributed to modern leaders, who are tuned into what really inspires progress and change, according to how they face challenges and provide solutions for global issues. The first step to understanding what soft power is, is having clarity on how technology has reshaped and redefined it. Soft power, according to Indra Adnan, doesn’t exist in the same context it did when it was coined by Joseph Nye in the 1980s. “We’re in the middle of a revolution of connectivity. It’s no longer the state handing information down. Now the information travels horizontally as much as it does vertically. That’s why soft power now has quite a different meaning than it did in the days of Joseph Nye.”


Soft power’s abilities and qualities have become more necessary as the world continues to evolve. “It would be good if we think about soft power as the way to solve problems first before we move on to hard power.” Because it allows for open dialogue, a real understanding of the needs of people and shapes the space for action, soft power serves a fundamental purpose in conflicts, international relations and business. Indra also provided 3 key insights that define and reflect soft power.

Soft Power is the Ability to Connect and Build Relationships

Soft power begins when you are connecting with people. You might think from the way I described it that it’s really marketing or propaganda or something. But actually it’s the ability to form relationships with people. Hard power depends on a certain level of disconnect. You can shape things with money through the power of disconnecting from them. 

Soft Power is the Ability to Solve through Influence and Not Force 

What’s stronger? The stone, the scissor or the paper? The paper is the soft power so the stone is the hard power. It has some kind of effect but paper wraps stone.

Soft Power is the Ability to Solve Problems the Sustainable Way 

While hard power solutions may appear to fix the problem, they don’t fix them for long. They are very temporary solutions. So you might drop a bomb, a drone might take out a group of terrorists, but the effects on the grounds are horrendous. Hard power rarely creates permanent solutions. Soft power, at least, is based on relationships and engagement, so it has the possibility of transcending the conflict.