I think the single common characteristic found in senior leaders is they almost all have exceptionally high emotional intelligence.
Andrew Coleman in A Dictionary of Psychology defines emotional intelligence as the ability of individuals to recognize their own and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
Raising your emotional intelligence will help you be a better and more effective leader.
Although, some are born with an inherent sixth sense, if you will, it’s also a talent that can be learned, nurtured and improved upon. Here are 3 ways to boost your emotional intelligence.
Journal To Aid Reflection.
Take time off to reflect. Sounds easy and it’s a bit of a cliché. Everyone takes time off to recharge his or her batteries, but rarely is this time used for reflection. It’s hard.
Journaling helps. It makes us stop to think about specific events from the past and then translate these events into written words. It’s almost the very definition of personal reflection.
There are some added benefits as well. I learned to write better and I now have a historical document I can pass on to my daughter when she gets older.
Additionally, when reflecting upon past events I find it most effective to explore the situation entirely from someone else’s vantage point.
This way, we can glean key insights into our own behavior and how we are coming across to others. This is powerful stuff for our own growth.
Go out and get one of those huge industrial journals and get started.
Look In The Mirror.
When things go wrong, and invariably they will, where do you look first? Great leaders look inward initially and ask themselves a key question, “What could I have done better to prevent this from happening?”
Ever notice most head coaches accept the blame for when their teams lose? They always know there are a few decisions they could have improved upon. Perhaps they could have prepared the team better or maybe they could have devised a different game plan.
Leaders of any organization should do the same thing. A leader’s job is to ensure planning takes place, approve the plan and establish conditions for successful execution.
Granted, sometimes things just go wrong without any explanation, but more often than not, if we as leaders are honest with ourselves, we know we could have always done better.
It’s a tough burden to bear to be sure, but that’s part of being a leader.
Here’s something to think about on this topic. Which leader would you follow? The leader who blames everyone for everything and never accepts responsibility, or the leader that shoulders the blame when appropriate, passes on lessons learned in a constructive manner and moves on? Be the latter, not the former.
Ok. I’ll admit it. I love biography. However, beyond being fascinating stories, biographies show us there are things that almost every great person has had in common.
They all worked hard. I haven’t read a single biography where the subject lucked into their good fortune. Certainly some people get breaks along the way, but more often than not, their “luck” is really the result of being prepared for opportunity.
Additionally, every historical figure has had to deal with the people of their time. The good, the bad, and the ugly. This tells us we aren’t alone in dealing with the people of our day.
Not everyone we meet will agree with us, no matter how good our ideas are, and not everyone will like us either. We’ll have to work with people we’d rather not and we’ll have to put up with their peccadillos, just like they put up with ours.
Finally, biography is history and history teaches us that most ideas, concepts and situations are not necessarily new. We can use these lessons and apply them to our current situation.
Additionally, we gain a more informed and nuanced perspective.
Want to prepare yourself for the C-Suite? Start learning the skills and honing the talents you’ll need. Reflect, practice some introspection and read biography. Good luck.
Got some other ideas for boosting your emotional intelligence? Let’s hear them.