What are the traits that differentiate a great leader from and a good leader?

All leaders are usually rather intelligent and many possess hard skills and technical skills that help them perform well. But more important than IQ or hard skills is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor your feelings and those of others to guide your behavior.  Studies have found that emotional intelligence is twice as important at all levels of leadership. And when studying top tier leadership positions emotional intelligence accounts for nearly 95% of the difference between average and star performers.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, has identified 5 components of emotional intelligence:
Each of these five emotional intelligence components can give leaders an edge.
Leaders with self-awareness welcome feedback. They know their abilities and play to their strengths but they don't overreach and aren't afraid to ask for help. Leaders who see themselves clearly also see their companies clearly.

Leaders who show self-regulation are slow to react to bad news or results.  Instead, they consider the reasons for the outcome, share their thoughts, and propose a solution.This creates an atmosphere of fairness and trust among the team which reduces politics, curbs unethical behavior, and increases productivity.

Leaders who show motivation set the bar high for themselves but also do for their companies.

Leaders who show empathy are able to read between the lines. They consider other peoples feelings in the decision making process. Empathetic leaders are able to navigate cultural differences well and pick up on body language and other non-verbal cues.

Leaders with strong social skills are great at building and leading teams due to their empathy. They are expert persuaders because their self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy guide them whether to make an emotional plea versus or to appeal to reason.  They are excellent collaborators. Their passion for their work spreads to others and their motivation drives them to find solutions.

So can emotional intelligence be learned? Yes. Like many soft skills in our lives, it takes a real commitment and a strong concerted effort but many components of emotional intelligence can be measurably improved upon over time.

Video: What Makes a Leader


Chris Adams
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posted @ Thursday, February 7, 2019 3:17 PM by Chris Adams