Many competencies play a role in great leadership, but the most critical is probably emotional intelligence—the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and to understand the emotions of others. Many, many studies have demonstrated the power and importance of emotional intelligence, and if you’re a leader or aspiring leader and you haven’t already done so, you need to begin working now to understand and develop it. Here are the basics:
Cultivate self- awareness. Before you can lead others, you must know and understand yourself. The image you have of yourself is likely different from what others see, so the best way to achieve a realistic self-awareness is to work with a trusted advisor, coach or mentor. Once you better understand your strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to consider your responses in different situations more clearly.
Manage self-regulation. Every leader should be capable of regulating their emotions. That means not verbally attacking others when you’re upset, not making rushed or emotional decisions when you’re stressed, not stereotyping others when you’re outside your comfort zone, and not compromising your values under pressure. Self-regulation is all about holding yourself accountable and staying calm—behavior that inspires others to do the same.
Develop inner motivation. Everyone needs to be self-motivating, but it’s even more important for leaders. Self-motivation means you’re aware of your goals and working with them consistently in mind. It instills high standards and integrity, and it offers encouragement by helping you find positivity in the face of challenges and even failures.
Embody empathy and humility. We live in a world that rewards people for hiding their insecurities, but it’s much more important to hide your sense of self-importance. That means letting go of your pride, picking and choosing battles, and looking for opportunities to listen to others. It means recognizing others for who they are, and—even when you feel you’re right and they’re wrong—it means listening and finding understanding in disagreement.
Acquire social skills. I am a big believer that leaders who work on their own self-awareness, managing their emotions and embodying empathy have an easier time developing the understanding and connection that make social interactions naturally gracious. Leaders with well-developed social skills appreciate others and communicate effectively, and they’re comfortable being supportive and reassuring. Working on your emotional intelligence and developing yourself as a leader gives you the tools to build great relationships with those around you.
Bottom line, emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence.
If you’re a leader but you haven’t developed self-awareness or the ability to manage your emotions, you’re constantly at the mercy of how you feel. And if you lack empathy and social skills, you aren’t likely to get far as a leader—no matter how smart you are.
Lead from within: Great leaders work on cultivating their own emotional intelligence as well as that of those they lead so together they can succeed.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.