Who are your favorite leaders and why? Now think about your least favorite leaders and why. There are leaders that people love to follow and there are leaders that people have to follow and the difference between the two is often how well they developed their emotional intelligence.
Leaders with a highly developed emotional intelligence are perceived by their followers as more open, optimistic, approachable, understanding, confident and capable than those who rely solely on their position to assert leadership.
It can be argued that a high EI is actually more important than a high IQ when it comes to motivating and moving people. So what are their secrets to leadership? Are leaders born with this trait or do they develop it themselves. Check out the list and judge for yourself.
- Leaders people love know who they are
The first secret of leadership is the ability to be able to identify and understand your own emotions. Knowing why you feel angry or sad or elated or any of the powerful emotions will allow you to control them. Rather than acting instinctively, the strong leader can identify the emotion they are feeling and do a rapid analysis and respond rationally.
- Strong leaders know how to relax at will
Stress is basically a form of fear and is an enormous distraction. Left unchecked, stress can lead to irrational responses, paralyses, poor judgments, damaged relations and of course low productivity. Understanding the cause of the stress and being able to rationally evaluate those causes eliminates the fear factor and allows the leader to relax and focus on a logical approach to any challenge.
- Successful leaders can “speak” nonverbally
What is commonly referred to as “body language” is really just an outward expression of emotion. The successful leader is attuned to the way others express themselves physically so he can identify what their emotional state is and accommodate it. On the flip side, he consciously expresses body language in a way that coveys an emotion appropriate to the situation.
- True leaders understand those that they lead
This is perhaps the most difficult skill to develop. Leaders have to not only be able to identify the emotions of their followers but also understand why they are feeling that way. It means skillful listening and rational investigational techniques. It means you can’t fall back on the “If they’d just do it my way” response and instead get them to voluntarily “Do it your way” preferably believing it was their own idea from the beginning.
- Great leaders “infect” the people they lead.
Science has proven that emotions are contagious. Mob mentality, where widely diverse group of individuals find themselves suddenly all expressing the same emotion and behavior is evident at any football game, wedding, funeral or riot.
A powerful emotional moment, like the second a bride says “I do” or the home team scores, or they lower a casket will trigger an almost universal response and everyone within its influence will have the same emotion. Great leaders encourage an infection of positive emotions like confidence, optimism, and respect among their followers.
- True leaders are a combination coach and water boy
The confidence that high emotional intelligence instills in the true leader allows him to focus on the objective and not worry about competition for his leadership role.
In fact the inspired leader knows that the more he or she can encourage the development of emotional intelligence in their subordinates, the more effective and productive their organization will be and that will reflect on the value of their leadership skills. True leaders identify the objective and then, just like the water boy, insures their subordinates have the resources they need to stay in the game.
- Relationships are the driving force in a real leader
An effective leader is obsessed with improving relationships. He or she knows that everything that they do, from leading and organization, to being a spouse and parent, to buying bread and milk at the grocers they do with or through other people. They understand that by using their emotional intelligence they can strengthen those relationships and lead a more satisfying and fulfilling life.
Are leaders the only ones who benefit from a high EI? Absolutely not. Everyone can lead more productive and enjoyable lives if they simply try to be in tune with their own emotions and consider the emotional needs of others.
By Andrew Clapton