What are the qualities of a great leader?
Directors, managers, and executives need to be empathetic, insightful, humble, and accountable. They also need to have high levels of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to connect with other people emotionally. It’s about the ability to respond in real-time based on what others need instead of reacting to situations after they happen.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is having the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those around you. People are often confused about what EI truly means because it’s not a tangible skill like talent. Instead, emotional intelligence is a way to understand and connect with other people — what they’re feeling and how they may be feeling it. Emotional intelligence is also known as social intelligence.
If you are a leader, then emotional intelligence is essential. It is crucial for you to quickly assess the situation and remain calm, even under pressure. Ask yourself, who is more likely to achieve success – the leader in control and evaluating the situation calmly, or the person under stress and shouting at his team?
Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ points to five key elements to emotional intelligence.
1. Knowing one’s emotions.
Self-awareness—recognising a feeling as it happens —is the keystone of emotional intelligence. An inability to notice our true feelings leaves us at their mercy. People with greater certainty about their feelings are better pilots of their lives, having a surer sense of how they feel about personal decisions from whom to marry to what job to take.
- Managing emotions.
Handling feelings, so they are appropriate is an ability that builds on self-awareness. People who lack this ability are constantly battling feelings of distress, while those who excel in it can bounce back far more quickly from life’s setbacks and upsets.
- Motivating oneself.
Emotional self-control—delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness—underlies accomplishment of every sort. And being able to get into the “flow” state enables outstanding performance of all kinds. People who have this skill tend to be more highly productive and effective in whatever they undertake.
- Recognising emotions in others.
Empathy, another ability that builds on emotional self-awareness, is the fundamental “people skill.” Empathic people are more attuned to the subtle social signals that indicate what others need or want. This makes them better at callings such as the caring professions, teaching, sales, and management.
- Handling relationships.
The art of relationships is, in large part, a skill in managing emotions in others. These are the abilities that undergird popularity, leadership, and interpersonal effectiveness. People who excel in these skills do well at anything that relies on interacting smoothly with others; they are social stars.
Extracts above taken from Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Coleman.
Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
Emotional intelligence in leadership is about clear-headed self-assessment and how it can help you make great decisions as a leader. It’s about knowing your strengths and weaknesses and acting in a manner that adds to the collective good. Emotional intelligence in leadership cuts to the core of everything a leader does, from making strategic decisions to dealing with an employee’s performance review.
What can you do to improve “Self-Awareness.”
- Keep an open mind
You have to be open-minded about people and all they have to offer. A great way to show that you’re a team player is to be curious about people and what they have to offer. This shows that you can be a good listener and don’t need to be the No. 1 person in the room.
- Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
You can work from the strengths that you already have, including talent, focus, and drive. But it’s also smart to know your weaknesses, so you can reach out and collaborate with others when needed. In today’s world, being mindful of your strengths and weaknesses is essential for business success.
- Stay focused.
Part of being a leader is making connections and maintaining focus. Train yourself to stay focused for long periods online without being distracted by social media, email, and other distractions.
- Know what triggers emotion.
Know what your emotions are. You can’t know what you feel until you understand why it matters. As Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Instead, stop going through the motions of repressing emotions and digging up emotional triggers to act on them — instead, figure out why they matter and what they can teach you about your situation.
- Embrace intuition
Be proactive, and trust your instincts. Successful people learn to trust their instincts and take the risks that come with them. Your intuition is based on the survival of the fittest and the need to succeed. It tells you what to do next — learn to trust it.
- Self Discipline
Good leaders tend to be disciplined in all aspects of their lives, from personal relationships to how they deal with setbacks and mistakes. It is an essential trait that provides them with the ability to maintain focus, persistence, and consistency.
- Self Regulation
Leaders who effectively regulate themselves rarely verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people, or compromise their values. Self-regulation is all about remaining in control. If leaders are concerned they may lose their opportunity to lead; they can always develop their self-regulatory skills.
5 ways to improve self-regulation.
- Leading and living with integrity:
Being a good role model, practicing what you preach, creating trusting environments, and living aligned with your values. One keyword that stands strong at the center of most businesses and organisations today and is the driving force for everything else. The word is integrity. It’s not merely ideal or necessary; it is required for success.
- Practice self-discipline:
Committing to taking the initiative and staying persistent in working toward your goals, even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. The ability of willpower to finish tasks on time is a well-known psychological phenomenon that has been the subject of many studies by behavior researchers.
- Keep calm under pressure:
Keep your cool by not letting anything come between you and your goal. A calm mind helps you to regain control of the situation, activate intelligent responses, and direct your energy effectively. A relaxed body is a healthy body because it releases stress hormones more slowly and efficiently, enhancing mental clarity, physical performance, and general health.
- Be open to change:
Being open to change is more important than ever. It’s never too soon to start adapting and improving yourself. While we all wish to have our way, being open to change and developing new skills is vital to living a successful and fulfilled life.
- Reframe negative thoughts:
To reframe negative thoughts, you must be able to take a step back from your thoughts and feelings. You have to reframe them positively and learn how to identify the negative thinking that triggers the most anger, fear, frustration, or sadness in you. Once you’re able to avoid reacting to these negative thought triggers that frequently arise within you, your general outlook will start to change for the better.
Self-motivated leaders have a strong work ethic and high standards for quality. Self-motivated leaders believe in treating people with respect and honoring their decisions. They also set high standards for their work and expect to be held to the very highest possible standard.
Find someone who inspires you
Positive role models can inspire you, inspire others, and motivate you to succeed. Sometimes, all it takes is listening and observing a positive role model’s words to unleash your true potential. Their stories can be inspirational to everyone in your company culture and can drive action ahead.
Maintain a Work/Balance
Having a balance between work and life is essential for managers to prevent demotivation. Having a healthy work-life balance is of paramount importance to keep you motivated, and it should be something that all managers strive for.
The bottom line results should never come at the expense of quality of life. Instead, the bottom line and your quality of life should aim to co-exist so you can provide your mind and body with the downtime needed to fuel motivation. If you neglect to find a healthy balance between the two, you’ll soon find yourself running out of puff.
In senior management positions, a traditional 9-5 work schedule might not always be the case. You may be required to work late into the evening or sacrifice a weekend. Don’t let overworking yourself interfere with enjoying time with your family; set aside some time for rest and renewal is essential for restoring an energetic outlook.
Recognise when to delegate tasks
Whether it’s five or fifty people in your team, leading a team will always involve taking on additional responsibilities and pressures. If you find yourself lacking the motivation to complete a task that your team members can handle, don’t be afraid to delegate. Delegating to your team members is an excellent way to deal with the extra workload and responsibilities of leading a new team.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the ever-increasing pile of work on your desk, and your team is always busy. Why not take matters into your own hands? Approach another member of your team and ask if they’d be happy to assist you. You never know who is itching for a little more responsibility and will jump at the chance to help. Remember, this doesn’t mean you should palm off boring jobs to someone else.
Find something good
Successful leaders see problems as opportunities to grow and improve. They are quick to pick up on mistakes and surface issues that might be harmful to the organization, and they are often proactive in seeking solutions. Hope is an ability that comes with experience.
When you face a challenge or even a failure, try to find at least one silver lining. A good lesson learned or a positive result of some kind can come from every situation. It might be as small as a new contact, a valuable lesson learned, or long-term financial savings. If you look for them, positives will always be there.
Leaders who possess empathy can put themselves in another person’s situation and recognize their perspective. They help develop their team and challenge others who are acting unfairly. They give constructive feedback and listen to those who need it.
If you want your team to respect you, show them you care by being empathic.
How can you improve your empathy?
Ask better questions
Bring a variety of thoughtful questions to every conversation you have with clients or colleagues. By bringing a few thought-provoking questions, you can genuinely engage different audiences.
Develop a sense of curiosity
What can you learn from an incredibly valuable young colleague who is “naïve”? What can you learn from a client who is “stuck in the past”? Curious people ask many questions, which leads them to develop a more robust understanding of the people around them.
Learning to read others’ body language may not seem like a leadership skill, but it can be beneficial. People tend to mirror your behaviors, so when you move in specific ways, people around you will begin to do the same. If your gestures are harmful or inconsiderate, they’re going to come back at you and not in a good way! Pay attention to how people move and how they interact with you and other people.
Emotional intelligence is more than a set of competencies that predict real-world success: It’s about being a great communicator, which is all about listening and understanding others and getting people to support you for the right reasons. Great leaders are adept at listening, retaining, and acting on information while using social skills to get their team excited about a new mission or project.
Leaders who have good social skills are also good at resolving disputes and managing change. They’re not satisfied with the status quo, but they don’t point fingers or make others shoulder the burden. They set a positive example for others by being respectful in their behavior.
How can you build social skills?
Leaders need to improve their leadership skills. Learning how to resolve conflicts with others effectively can be a vital skill for any leader. While conflict resolution is not a prerequisite for success, it plays an essential role in achieving goals and building teams.
Improving face-to-face communication skills is essential because it will help leaders convey messages clearly and concisely.
Learn how to reward others – Each team member should feel acknowledged when they succeed and capable of rising to the occasion when called on. Praise is an essential skill that all leaders should learn, but the most successful ones are those who make it a priority.
To be a leader in today’s ever-changing business world, you must pay close attention to how your emotions and actions affect others. A better understanding of how your behavior affects others will help you excel in the future.
Remember to be yourself and be true to your own beliefs. Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills will help you excel in the future.