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Leadership is an important skill to develop if you want to succeed in your chosen profession. You don’t need to be in a leading position to be a great leader, developing strong leadership skills will benefit you no matter where you are placed in an organisation.
So what makes a good leader and how does Emotional intelligence play a role? Leadership is all about communication, how you relate to and engage others. Effective communication is based on presence, trust and influence. If you want to be an effective leader, then you will need to address how well you relate to others and how comfortable they are in communicating with you.
This can be addressed by looking at your Emotional Intelligence (EI). Those with high levels of emotional intelligence are successful at communicating because they have an awareness of themselves and others. They also have the ability to control their own emotions and those of the people around them, no matter how stressful or frustrating a situation may be.
So what exactly is Emotional Intelligence and why is it important to a leader? In a nutshell, Emotional Intelligence is all about emotional awareness and control of yourself and others.
There are four basic aspects to Emotional Intelligence as outlined by leading EI expert Daniel Goldman:
You know and understand yourself, including your strengths and weaknesses. With a strong self-awareness you have the ability to observe and manage your emotional responses. You also appreciate how others respond to your emotional responses.
You are in full control of your responses and behaviour. You do not react without consideration of the impact your actions will have. Those leaders who have a strong ability to manage their behaviour tend to build a high level of trust with their followers.
Knowing and understanding your own emotions is one thing, having the ability to understand the emotions of others is something completely different, and extremely beneficial in building strong leadership skills. Considering the emotions of others will enable you to communicate emphatically in a way that resonates with each of them.
This element is almost self-explanatory. A leader who has good social skills knows how to communicate effectively. A leader who can manage the social environment whether it is positive or negative, is going to be able to engage staff, manage conflict and build a strong, productive team.
The goal of any leader is to achieve the desired results in as productive an environment as possible while building a strong team and a positive culture. This becomes so much easier if communication flows in a positive, engaged manner. Staff will step up and work to their strengths when they feel they are heard and acknowledged. A workplace with a negative, stressful environment is going to have the opposite outcomes.
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