The next sign of great leadership: Emotional intelligence
April 2, 2019
“If you don’t understand vulnerability, you cannot manage and lead people. If you’re not showing up vulnerably as a leader, you can’t expect anyone to follow you — period.” – Brené Brown
Over the last few years, the business landscape has morphed, forcing companies and leaders to transform in many ways. Honesty, intelligence and empathy are required. And those who hold those as ideals consistently rise above the rest.
We buy products and services from people who we admire and respect. How companies show up in the world and how they communicate within it directly impacts that level of admiration. People want to feel heard, understood and valued.
Today, more than ever, bosses and business owners worldwide are rethinking their roles and responsibilities because of that. It’s happening silently — indistinguishable in the day-to-day outside of an organization. But it’s remarkable in the way it’s changing the business landscape.
Great leadership requires extras that it didn’t less than a decade ago. Adaptability — in thought and process — are necessary. While some of these additions seem trendy or short-lived, one of the biggest shifts likely to stay is the need for emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to see and master emotions while also recognizing and respectfully responding to the emotions of others. It’s the next harbinger of great leadership. Researchers, analysts and consumers are all on board with bosses and business owners upping their emotional game.
True leaders are now recognized not as just authorities, but as people we can identify with.
They also are being asked to embrace:
• Strong communication, showing they know how to listen as much as speak
• Inspirational project management, where their passion get others on board
• Innovation and collaboration, where they bring new ideas but know the best ideas sometimes come from teamwork
• Honesty when things are going well and when they aren’t, as well as deeper self-awareness and confidence enough to own mistakes publicly
The key is showing up as a whole human and being unafraid of transparency, then working toward improving relationships within an organization, within team communications or with customers.
Yes, this requires a level of vulnerability that makes old school CEOs and COOs cringe. But for those open to it, leaders are building trust they were never able to when they hid behind authority.
Think about it. Now, instead of being seen as stuffy suits, good leaders are thoughtful and careful to make sure the people who work for them know their worth. In turn, the business runs on every team member’s strengths. Collaboration is easy and people are valued. Ego responses disintegrate as people choose to actively take responsibility and practice self-compassion. If nobody feels threatened by an overlord, they comfortably do their jobs. Sensitivity is breathed into every connection.
So how do you start upping your emotional intelligence?
Here are three steps:
1. Analyze your emotions.
The first step toward increasing emotional intelligence is acknowledging where you are now.
Think about how you respond when things don’t go well. How do you react to people when they blame you for something you didn’t cause? How do you speak to your team? What behaviors do you consistently exhibit when things don’t go as planned?
2. Observe how others view you.
Instead of assuming what people think, observe how they react to you in your personal and professional life. Are they comfortable sharing hard things? Will they come to you with problems, or are they ashamed and afraid?
When you begin seeing yourself as others see you, you’re better able to determine if you need to be more supportive and/or aware of the needs of your team.
3. Think before you act.
If you need time to think about something, ask for it. Or take an extra pause before you respond in order to think about your words. Most people miss this crucial step.
Put your feelings aside and use their words to help you improve.
This work is constant. No one gets it right the first or second time. But the effort will be noticed and appreciated. When you empathize with others, they give you more slack and empathize with you.
If you can tap into your own emotions and learn to observe understanding, your emotions will become an asset within your business, and not something you have to fix.
By Rebecca Dickson