Friday, November 18, 2011

Effective Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Typically, I write more on what I would call hard skills: strategy, research, analytics, etc. but I've been doing a lot of thinking about leadership lately, and what makes a good leader. I've been in design industry a long time, 19 years, and most of it has included some aspect of marketing, though that didn't become my focus until about 13 years ago. I've worked with, and under, a lot of people in positions of leadership during that time, both creative types and business types. You notice that I say "people in positions of leadership" not "leaders." There is a big difference. Someone can have worked their way into a leadership position without being a good leader, and I don't necessarily see evidence that the business person is a better leader than the creative person, though that's the stereotype.

I have a good amount of experience as a leader, having led a lot of virtual, ad hoc, and traditional cross-functional teams, and I also have a lot of education in that field, as well as having created some leadership training programs. Does that experience and education make me a leader? Sure. I like to hope I'm a good leader, but is that a result of only those two elements? I don't think so. My belief is that emotional intelligence (EQ/EI) is the sine qua non of leadership and there is a direct correlation between EQ/EI and measurable business results. Daniel Goleman coined the term back in 1995 when he published his book of the same name and I've been following him ever since. His most recent publication on leadership, if you're interested, is Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence. According to Goleman there are five components of emotional intelligence and therefore of effective leadership.

Components of Emotional Intelligence

Self-Awareness» The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives and how they effect others» Self-confidence
» Realistic self-assessment
» Self-deprecating sense of humor
Regulation» The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods
» The predilection to think before acting
» Trustworthiness and integrity
» Comfort with ambiguity
» Openness to change
Motivation»A passion to work for reasons other than money or status
»A predilection to energetically and persistently pursue goals
»Strong drive to achieve
»Eternal optimism
»Organizational commitment
Empathy» Able to understand the emotions of other people
» Able to treat people based on their emotional reactions
» Expertise in building and retaining talent
» Cross-cultural sensitivity
» Service to clients, both internal and external
Social Skills» Proficient in building relationships and networks
» Ability to find common ground and achieve rapport
» Effective in leading change
» Persuasive
» Expertise in building and leading teams

All that said, there is much more to it than this, but these are the basics of emotional intelligence. Effective leaders use this, in conjunction with one or more leadership styles (Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coaching) to motivate and lead their teams to success. I'll go into those leadership styles in my next post, but if you don't want to wait, has a basic description on their site.

I'd also like to add one element that is very important to me, and one that I see missing a lot: Show respect. Show respect to your supervisors, co-workers, and reports. Show it to your customers/clients. Show it whether they can hear you or not; whether they're in good standing or not. It doesn't do anyone any good to hear their boss stomping around the office berating a customer because they're late on a payment or speaking patronizingly to a direct report. In the workplace, there is always someone who is aware.


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