“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
Leadership success in one’s career and life requires more than just good technical skills, intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision. These are certainly important and necessary, but they aren’t sufficient. To truly succeed as an effective leader you need to add the five components of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence as a concept entered the mainstream in the mid-1990’s by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. In the book, Goleman categorizes emotional intelligence into five areas:
- Self-Awareness. A self-aware person is someone who is confident in their abilities and comfortable with whom they are. They understand their strengths, weaknesses, emotions, and impact on others.
- Self-Regulation. The emotionally intelligent understand their emotions and they have control over how they reveal them. They don’t hide their feelings; instead they express them in a way that exhibits judgment and control.
- Motivation. Leaders generally are ambitious. Emotionally intelligent leaders, however, are motivated by a strong inner drive, not simply money or titles.
- Empathy. Leaders with empathy don’t necessarily have to be easy on their team. They do, however, need to possess the compassion and understanding of human nature that enables them to connect emotionally with others. Empathy allows them to respond with authenticity to a team members concerns.
- People Skills. Emotionally intelligent leaders are widely respected. They like people and know what makes them tick. Their ability to quickly build rapport and trust with those on whom they depend seems almost second nature.
The Big 7 of The Emotionally Aware
The following seven attributes flow from the five broad categories of an emotionally intelligent person. The questions are provided to provoke self-reflection. Which happens to be a key skill of the emotionally intelligent leader
- Patience. Not everyone operates at the same tempo and not everyone can keep pace with you. How patient are you in ensuring all team members are moving forward? Patience is also key in communications. Do you become agitated in discussions with people who take the long road to get to a simple idea? How might you resolve this dilemma without alienating one of your team?
- Compassion. Compassion doesn’t mean “soft”. It means being receptive to another person’s situation. You don’t have to abdicate your leadership role to be compassionate. In fact, authentic compassion in a leader can be a strength that eclipses every other attribute of that person. Are you willing to see the world from another’s point of view? Have you taken the time to get to know your team members beyond their name and work skills? Are you truly invested in each person’s career and life success?
- Flexibility. An emotionally intelligent leader is also someone who is flexible in their approach to work, schedules, and situations. The work terrain is seldom the same from day-to-day. Situations arise one day that require all hands on deck, then go 180-degrees opposite the very next day. Are you flexible in your approach to work? Are you willing to be “on”, then “off”?
- Able to communicate by more than just words. When you think of communicating, what do you think of? Speaking and writing might be the first components that come to mind. An emotionally intelligent leader, however, has the ability to communicate with their body language, facial expressions, and attire. How do you stand when you are talking with a team member? What is your posture when sitting at your desk? How do you dress?
- Trusting and trustworthy. Trust is one attribute mandatory for effective leadership. That’s because without trust, the interchange between people is at risk. To be an emotionally intelligent leader, however, you have to be trusting. It can be simple to be a trustworthy leader: do what you say. It can be difficult to be trusting. That’s because to be trusting you have to be willing to let others fail and to let situations unfold. In short, you have to be vulnerable. How trusting are you? Do you have to control everything? What might you let unfold?
- Authentic. This attribute is difficult for most people to embrace because it also requires one to be vulnerable. To operate with authenticity requires one to open up to others about your true identity. For many this can be difficult, perhaps downright frightening. The returns, however, can be enormous for the leader that opens up. We are, in the end, all human. How open are you? Do you have a work personality and a life personality? Are you willing to share who you are with your team?
- Respectful. Every emotionally intelligent leader treats each person with respect. This goes for people on their team and everyone else they come in contact with – the barista at Starbucks, their boss, the customer service person on the phone at Delta. In times when many might snap, the emotionally intelligent leader is self-aware enough to know that the situation won’t be helped by their rashness. Do you treat customer service on the phone with respect? Do you treat your team differently than a random stranger? Why?
How does your performance rate in each of these areas? What might you do differently to increase or enhance your emotional intelligence performance?
Simmons, Kathy. “ASAE The Center for Association Leadership.” Emotional Intelligence: What Smart Managers Know. The Center for Association Leadership, Apr. 2001. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
Crossley, Tracy. “10 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence Is Critical for Leaders.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 2 Mar. 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2015.
Goleman, David. “What Makes a Leader?” Www.hbr.org. Harvard Business Review, 01 Jan. 2004. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.