Hello SOTGC community,
I often begin leadership workshops with a discussion about what it means to be great.
Think about the best leader you’ve ever had. Who was the greatest? What characteristics and behaviors set that person apart from the rest?
I record highlights on flip chart pages as participants share their experiences. Common answers include:
- “He had the perfect balance of confidence and humility.”
- “She stayed positive, even when things weren’t going well.”
- “He genuinely cared about every person on his team.”
- “She walked the talk.”
After we’ve created what feels like an exhaustive list I ask the participants to review the responses and consider this question:
Which of these attributes are related to IQ (measurement of intellectual ability; book smarts) and which are related to EQ (measurement of emotional and sociality ability; street smarts)?
The conclusion is overwhelming. Emotional intelligence (also known as EI or EQ) is what separates the great leaders from the average ones.
Now, I’m not saying IQ isn’t important. IQ often defines success in school, and it gets your foot in the door at work. As leadership consultant and author, Warren Bennis, once said,
“Emotional intelligence, more than any other factor, more than IQ or expertise, accounts for 85% – 90% of success at work … IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional intelligence can.”
So what is emotional intelligence anyway? Multi-Health Systems, the publisher of the EQ-i 2.0® assessment tools, defines it as:
“A set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.”
How do you know if you have the EQ “stuff” of a great leader? Here are four questions to ask yourself.
- Am I authentic? Authentic leaders are self-aware. They understand and accept their strengths and their weaknesses, and are always looking for ways to improve themselves. They are transparent and confident enough to be their true selves with others.
- Am I a coach? Leaders who coach truly care about and support their employees’ growth and development. When someone comes to them with a question or problem, they don’t jump to provide answers. Instead, coaching leaders ask probing questions that help others learn and solve problems on their own.
- Am I insightful? Leaders with insight take time to understand the true nature of people and situations. They gather multiple perspectives in order to identify the best course of action. They can create a compelling vision and then inspire others to work towards that vision.
- Am I innovative? Innovative leaders are willing to challenge the status quo and take risks. More importantly, they create an environment in which others feel safe to do the same. They encourage independent and creative thinking.
How’d you do? The good news is, with increased self-awareness and a desire to grow, anyone can develop the EQ skills to be an even greater leader. A professional coach who is certified in emotional intelligence can help.
What can you do to go from good to great? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.