Posted by Holly Carberry

When you start out in your career, your technical skills in your chosen field are very important. You’re likely working hands-on, using the training and knowledge that got you to this point. For example, a junior procurement specialist might spend their day analysing supplier bids, managing purchase orders, and ensuring compliance with procurement policies.

As you start to move up in the organisation and into a leadership role, you’ll rely on your technical skills less – and your interpersonal and intrapersonal skills become extremely important. 

What’s the difference between interpersonal skills and intrapersonal skills?

Interpersonal skills are those we use for communication and managing relationships, such as effective communication, active listening, giving and receiving feedback effectively, leadership and the ability to motivate others.

Intrapersonal skills are what we use for self-management: resilience and the ability to manage stress, time management, confidence, self-regulation and emotional intelligence.

Why do interpersonal and intrapersonal skills matter more as you progress?

As you move up your organisation, your role becomes more strategic. It’s not just your output that matters – it’s your ability to manage the output of your team, keeping them happy, motivated and skilled at the same time. You’ll spend less time on day-to-day operations, and more time on interactions that require a high level of interpersonal skills, building relationships and negotiating with clients or suppliers.

Of course, intrapersonal skills like good time management and an ability to manage stress are important for everyone, wherever you are in your career – but when you’re in a strategic and leadership role, your inter- and intra-personal skills have a greater effect on an organisation’s bottom line, and with increased pressure that comes with more responsibility, it’s important that you can self-manage – and manage those around you.

From negotiation to motivation, here’s why these inter- and intrapersonal skills matter more as you progress.


Negotiation skills are critical for any leadership role, whether you’re in sales, procurement, or HR. Interpersonal skills like clear communication and active listening help you understand the needs and perspectives of suppliers and partners (which in turn helps you build good relationships with those partners) while intrapersonal skills like confidence and emotional intelligence help you stay composed and strategic during tough negotiations or difficult conversations.

Managing and motivating your team

As a leader, your ability to effectively motivate your team and keep the lines of communication open will directly correlate to your team’s success. Interpersonal skills are essential for building trust, giving constructive feedback, and creating a culture of civility and inclusivity. Intrapersonal skills, such as emotional intelligence, help you understand your team’s dynamics and address any issues proactively. By fostering a positive work environment, you can keep your team engaged and productive.

Managing your own increased workload

With leadership comes a heavier workload and more complex responsibilities. Effective time management is crucial to help you handle the increased demands on your time. Setting priorities, delegating tasks, and maintaining a work-life balance are all intrapersonal skills that help you manage your workload efficiently. This ensures you can focus on strategic initiatives without becoming overwhelmed.

Handling high-pressure situations

Leadership roles often involve high-pressure situations that require quick decision-making and problem-solving. Intrapersonal skills like resilience and stress management help you stay calm and focused under pressure. These skills enable you to make well-considered decisions, maintain your composure, and lead your team effectively through challenging times.

Both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills are critical as you advance in your career. While technical skills lay the foundation, it’s your ability to manage yourself and your relationships with others that will determine your long-term success. By developing these skills, you can unlock your leadership capabilities, drive organisational success, and create a positive, productive work environment. 

I developed the Developing Procurement Talent programme to help procurement teams build these interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and maximise their procurement power. You can find out more about the Developing Procurement Talent programme here – or feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.