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Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

If you've not studied Emotional Intelligence you should, especially if you want to be a top leader. Here are two powerful reasons back up that statement. First, research shows that the overwhelming difference between top performers and average performers is higher levels of Emotional Intelligence. The second reason? Emotional Intelligence is totally learnable.

Emotional Intelligence (what many call "EQ") is a type of skill or intelligence that enables you to perceive and assess the emotions, desires, and tendencies of yourself as well as of those around you, and make the best decision for all concerned that moves everyone in the direction of a common goal.

Four-fifths of the difference between top and average performers is higher EQ. Contrary to popular belief, it's a relatively simple undertaking. Also, since more than two thirds of the difference between top performers and average performers is EQ, it's practically a no-brainer to study it if you want to be a top performer.

By the way, if you're in a top leadership position, the reason to study is even stronger: in senior positions, four-fifths of the difference between top and average performers is higher EQ.

 What follows are ten essential understandings about relationship management that some say ought to be common sense. If your work involves dealing with people (most jobs do), and you want a foundation upon which you can build your emotional intelligence skills, here are a few things to know:

1. In the realm of personality styles, we should drop the ideas of "good" and "bad." People are just different.

2. People often equate "different" with "difficult." In reality, different is difficult only because people haven't learned to work effectively with the differences.

3. In the same way that a stick has two ends, people have strengths and weaknesses. All strengths have an associated weakness, and all weaknesses have an associated strength. You choose which end of the stick will receive your attention.

4. All personality styles add to team strength; it's just a matter of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. By focusing on strengths you'll get stronger. By focusing on weaknesses, you'll get weaker.

5. Seeking the strengths in differing styles does not come naturally — it takes constant effort.

6. We cannot be effective if we expect everyone else to meet us on "our turf."

7. We cannot assume we know another person's definition of "win." We may have a general idea, but to truly be effective we must ask.

8. If we place personal goals over those of others, the team, and/or the organisation's vision and mission, we create divisions. This severely weakens our ability to maximise results.

9. Effectiveness has to with doing the right thing, efficiency has to do with getting things done fast. When working with people, effectiveness is rarely efficient. The best results usually come when we take the necessary time in our relationships to do things right.

10. It's one thing to understand these things, it's another thing to do them. The longest road can be the 18 inches between your head and your heart.


Openness and Communication

Openness and Communication are two values of Positive Leadership.

‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.’ Aristotle

‘The day soldiers stop bring you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.’ General Colin Powell

‘Having the confidence to adapt quickly to any situation, use honesty, humility and humour in the conversation, and interact as a positive force in the community.’ Steve Shenbaum

Here are some reference materials which speak to these values: