Please consider the following from Meghan M. Biro, CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group:
“Make a list of the 5 leaders you most admire. They can be from business, social media, politics, technology, and the sciences – any field. Now ask yourself why you admire them. The chances are high that your admiration is based on more than their accomplishments, impressive as those may be. I’ll bet that everyone on your list reaches you on an emotional level.
This ability to reach people in a way that transcends the intellectual and rational is the mark of a great leader. They all have it. They inspire us. It’s a simple as that. And when we’re inspired we tap into our best selves and deliver amazing work.”
With this in mind, are you consciously aware of the feelings and emotions you generate in others? What I am really asking is whether or not you display and practice Emotional Intelligence (EQ/EI).
What is Emotional Intelligence? It is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. People and leaders that have high EQ have the following skills and abilities:
- Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify their own emotions and those of others
- The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving
- The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate their own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person
Perhaps you’re one of those men or women who think that Emotional Intelligence is an unnecessary “soft skill” not worth your time, or consider it as Homer Simpson does: “Boys don’t have feelings, boys have muscles”. If so, I predict that your days in your management or leadership position are numbered.
Daniel Goleman, often regarded as a modern day toa on the subject, shared the following during a Q&A session with Dan Schawbel, Managing partner of Millennial Branding:
Q: What would you say are the top 3 skills that make a leader based on your famous HBR article?
A: “What Makes a Leader?” was the title of the 1998 article I wrote in Harvard Business Review that the review calls one of its ten “must-read” articles of all time. I wrote about three abilities that distinguish the best leaders from average: self-awareness, which both lets you know your strengths and limits, and strengthens your inner ethical radar; self-management, which lets you lead yourself effectively; and empathy, which lets you read other people accurately. You put all those together in every act of leadership.”
It cannot be denied or overlooked that what we say or do on a daily basis impacts ourselves and others on a deep and fundamentally important level. Researchers and experts, like Goleman, continue to confirm that Emotional Intelligence is a vital component of leadership. In fact, TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.
As a result, we need to make concerted efforts to be improving in this area every day. How? I assure you that it doesn’t take hours and hours of study. Instead it is something that can only really be learned during our everyday movements, our back and forths, up and downs. Please allow me to offer a few practical questions to test yourself against, and then perhaps go on to improve, which will in turn result in heightened emotional intelligence:
- Do you get distracted by every tweet, text message, and passing thought? Goleman says: “Without being present with ourselves and others, it’s difficult to develop self-awareness and strong relationships.”
- When you’re upset, do you know exactly why? Life is an ever changing, ever running rollercoaster of different emotions. They key to enjoying the ride is in being able to connect or link your emotions and your thoughts. When one is working without the other, or both are working against each other, an inner conflict and turmoil will be experienced and unhappiness and dissatisfaction will result.
- Do you get along with most people? Or do you see them as threats or irritations, especially when they don’t see things as you would like them to? Guess which one means you’re emotionally intelligent.
- Do you slow down and help others? Many of us, the vast majority of the time, are completely focused on ourselves. While EQ includes self awareness, it doesn’t include self absorption. A crucial component of EQ is the ability to empathise and show compassion, which are impossible to do if your attention is focused only on yourself.
- Are you good at reading facial expressions and body language? I’m not asking if you’re an expert in this area, but rather if you are consciously aware of what people’s expressions and differing poses are saying about their emotional state, and whether or not you factor that into you communications with them. In turn, do you use certain facial expressions and your own body language to influence the emotions of others?
On an ongoing basis, in order to keep employees and followers engaged and aligned, leaders need to build bridges between organisational goals and personal aspirations. If you are unable to tap into the emotional state of the person seated across from you, how do you go about building that bridge? My position is that you simply cannot.
In conclusion, consider this short quote: “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.” Roger Ebert, American film critic, journalist and screenwriter.
The power of emotions and your ability as a leader to influence them must not and cannot be overlooked. As much as we may attempt to move through life engaging situations intellectually, it is simply impossible to remove ones’ self from the feelings and emotions differing situations bring rise to. In a world of diverse social opinions, political views, and economic positions, adding emotional intelligence to your leadership toolkit might be the most important thing you can do for your career. Emotions are universal and fundamental. He who can master his own feelings, and then in turn speaks to the feelings of others communicates in a language understood anywhere in the world. This person will have followers wherever they go. And when all is said and done, leaders cannot be leaders without followers.
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