Four keys to successful leadership
The ability to get things done (influencing actions) is what distinguishes great leaders from those whose teams are disengaged. In fact, of all the keys to successful leadership, perhaps it is the ability to exert influence rather than authority that is most effective. Authority may give you the power to lead, but it is not what makes people follow.
In this article, you will learn why emotional intelligence is the number one key to successful leadership and determines your ability to influence the behavior of yourself and others.
Leadership influence starts with self-awareness
Leaders remain calm, in control, and confident in all situations. They must do so to make better, more objective decisions. This control begins with self-awareness – the understanding of your own emotions, and how you are likely to react in any given circumstance.
To learn deep self-awareness, you must connect to your emotions. You must understand what triggers your anger, dismay, exuberance, disappointment, etc. It’s necessary to accept these emotions as part of your natural self, and then learn how they change your attitude and actions. Once you understand all of this, you can then learn to control these emotions by self-management techniques.
It’s a little like driving on ice. You know how your vehicle is going to react when the tyres hit an ice patch, and so you can take proactive measures to reduce or eliminate that behaviour. If you do hit ice unexpectedly, you know how to react so that you don’t lose control of your vehicle.
Self-awareness gives you the power to influence (self-manage) your own actions and reactions – the first key to successful leadership.
To influence others, you must understand them
It is necessary to walk in the shoes of another to understand why they act how they do. We all respond differently to identical circumstances. Some people break into a cold sweat when they see a snake, while others want to pet it.
This understanding of other people’s emotional reactions, empathy, is a quality that we all have but seldom bring to work. Empathy is why you connect to characters in a novel: you feel what they do. When you employ empathy, you become more supportive of others. This helps the employee feel valued. When you are empathetic, you listen better. You communicate more effectively. You will gain trust, and you will build better relationships, as you learn to read and influence the actions and reactions of others through your verbal and non-verbal communication.
Empathy is the path to making deeper connections with your people. It is at this point that people will trust you to make the best decisions, because you will be seen to have taken all views and feelings into consideration when making those decisions.
Influence is derived from understanding yourself and others, and then using this understanding to control your own emotions while connecting to others. The inability to control your emotions will cause behavior that is deemed as erratic by others, and detrimental to building a cohesive team. Your verbal and non-verbal communication affects others.
By learning to adapt your emotional self to different situations and circumstances, and then taking the perspective of others, you will create the atmosphere of trust and understanding that is essential for your influence to be accepted and maintained. To become an effective leader, practice these keys to successful leadership:
- Social awareness (empathy)
- Relationship management
Are your leaders the influencers you know they could be? Do they exhibit the qualities and character traits to shape a high-performing team? Contact Forward Focus today to discuss how our Management Development Series could help your managers and leaders become more emotionally intelligent and better influencers.