While there’s no doubt that Donald Trump has done alright for himself with his bullish, top-down, ‘command and control’ style of leadership, the notion of the extrovert ‘alpha male’ business leader is becoming a thing of the past. Today’s great leaders, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, are often more introverted, humble and centred on their teams and clients than themselves – in other words, they’re emotionally intelligent. Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence identify, develop and empower their people, allowing them to take credit for successes and the space to take risks.
Does this ring true in your own company? Are you using your emotional intelligence to run your business? The answer lies in these five indicators of emotionally intelligent leadership:
- You are yourself
People are perceptive and they can quickly tell whether someone is being genuine. It may be tempting to adopt what you think is the ‘right persona’ of a leader, hiding some facets of your personality and trying to adopt others, even if they’re not natural. However, your people need to be able to trust you as their leader, and any signals that detract from building that trust (such as a lack of authenticity) diminishes effective leadership.
- You are flexible and adaptable
The ability to read situations and people is a great asset in any part of your life. Understanding when a member of your team needs coaching, training, encouragement, space to try again, direct intervention or support makes a huge difference both to their development and how effective you are in your role as a leader. Knowing when to use different leadership styles is a great asset.
- You are open to feedback
The culture of an organisation is usually created and reinforced by the leader. Openness and trust are important, and a leader who is genuinely open to feedback goes a long way to creating such a culture. Accepting feedback in a positive way, fully assessing its possibilities and acting accordingly are great skills that can be developed and improved. Equally important is helping your team develop their skill in providing feedback in an appropriate, positive and genuine way.
- You accept and learn from mistakes – both yours and your team’s
When someone makes a mistake, they should feel ‘safe’ enough to say so, empowered to propose a solution or confident enough to admit they don’t know how to fix the problem. Your reaction to a mistake sends very powerful ripples around the rest of the company. Do you want things hidden from you, covered up or ignored, or do you want openness and the opportunity to put things right and make them better in the future? Similarly, your acceptance of your own shortcomings and potential for errors sets the example and influences the culture.
- You recognise the reason for having two ears and one mouth, and you use them in that proportion
Effective communication and engagement with others is more about listening and understanding than talking. Emotionally intelligent leaders don’t dominate the conversation by talking over others and they don’t just talk about themselves or the task at hand. They listen and reflect on what they’ve heard and they ask questions. They ask not only what the team thinks about something, but also how they feel about it. You may have a very strong sense of the conclusion you want to reach but be patient and see if you can encourage the team to get there first.
So how do you measure up … are you more Zuck than Trump? As we’ve seen from some of the most successful business leaders of recent times, developing your emotional intelligence can accelerate your performance as a leader, your team’s performance and your business’s performance. To find out how emotionally intelligent you can be, contact us today.