My leadership genius? you say laughing. Do I have one hiding away somewhere?”
Yes absolutely, but the intelligence I’m talking about is less about any Einstein quotient and more about your ‘nature of being’ – the aspect of us, no matter our gender or culture, that is innately nurturing, supportive, engaging, compassionate, gracefully assertive, sensitive and self-aware.
When we recruit these characteristics, especially in moments of triggered conflict, we have the potential to generate the magic that plays a starring role in the making of brilliant leaders – those who display composure under fire, retaining instead a strong focus on desired outcome rather than retaliation.
Malcolm Gladwell suggested, in his classic book Outliers, the Story of Success that the IQ we’re born with functions as a differentiator for success in leadership up to a score of about 115, but past that point other attributes begin to play a more significant role.
If we wade through the data on the topic, the superstar of all of these traits looks to be emotional intelligence (EQ). This isn’t surprising given the fact that we know successful businesses are based on successful relationships and that EQ is the primary skill known to generate effective interactions.
By definition, EQ is the ability to recognise, understand and, most importantly, tactically manage our emotions to create a desired outcome – largely accomplished by enlisting many of the traits mentioned above.
Can we grow and develop our EQ? Definitely.
Three ways successful leaders translate this capability into real-time application
A focus on self-awareness
Leaders with EQ have a heightened capacity to recognise their own emotional state in any given moment, as well as the interactive climate in the room.
Aware of their own defensive reactions, they are practised at transforming them to responses of a more constructive nature, shifting to empathy or curiosity. In doing so, they drive toward a win-win result.
Leaders with underdeveloped EQ skills can find themselves slaves to gut reactions, which burn bridges and diminish their capacity to positively influence a discussion.
A focus on objectivity
Exercising EQ serves to tether interactions to an emphasis on solutions and productive results, bypassing the predictable inefficiencies of personal conflict.
Through this self-management, leaders diffuse the tense situations that waste time, bruise relationships and are counterproductive.
This generates a group sense of personal safety, opening the door for collaboration, innovation and cooperation.
An application of common traits
Business leaders proficient at EQ share similar qualities:
- They take responsibility for their own defensive emotions, with no finger pointing or blame.
- They work to identify, acknowledge and accept their personal conflict triggers and are practised at managing them.
- They train themselves to anticipate rough water in vital meetings and create a premeditated plan for how to stay goal focused while helping others do the same.
In the end, leaders empowered with EQ are better able to build effective relationships by generating positive, mutually fulfilling interaction dynamics, the very framework supporting successful business results.