As a coach it is not unusual to work with people who express a desire and even intention to move up the company ladder into a leadership position. And, to accomplish this they often believe that by doing an excellent job in each position they hold, they will be recognized and advanced up the ladder. With focus and strong performance they will be given to opportunity to lead others. And that’s when they will learn the skills associated with ‘leading’ that they will need to succeed.
The thinking isn’t off because so many organizations promote employees into leadership positions presuming that they will need to train the lucky person in the skills they will need to successfully lead and influence others. Aha … wait a minute. What would be the advantage if each person with a desire to advance learned and demonstrated the skills associated with successful leadership in their current positions? How might this catch the attention of higher-ups earlier and actually make the transition happen faster and more efficiently?
So the question I hear is how do I do that? What are the skills and attributes that make for an effective leader that I could learn and master now … even before I’m selected to lead others? Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist and author. He is also the person who associated the term ‘emotional intelligence’ to the business world and leadership. After much research and study he identified that the best and most effective leaders were those who demonstrated aspects of emotional intelligence in their role and the best news is that these qualities are ones that we can use in our jobs today and thus begin to develop and hone the very skills that will set us apart as a leader. There are five straightforward traits:
- Self-Awareness or the ability to understand your moods, emotions and drives and the effects on others. Strengths reflected include self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, self-deprecating sense of humor.
- Self-regulation or the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods. The propensity to suspend judgment … to think before acting. Strengths reflected include trustworthiness and integrity, comfort with ambiguity, openness to change.
- Motivation or a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. Strengths reflected include a strong drive to achieve, optimism even in the face of failure, organizational commitment.
- Empathy or the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. Skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions. Strengths reflected include expertise in building and retaining talent, cross-cultural sensitivity, service to clients and customers
- Social Skill or proficiency in managing relationships and building networks. An ability to find common ground and build rapport. Strengths reflected include effectiveness in leading change, persuasiveness, expertise in building and leading teams. (You can read more HERE)
As you see, the above ‘skills’ have little if anything to do with our “technical skills like accounting and business planning or cognitive abilities like analytical reasoning.” Rather, competencies demonstrating emotional intelligence, such as the ability to work with others and effectiveness in leading change distinguish the best leaders and we have no reason to wait until we are in that position to practice and utilize these skills.
If anyone is looking to escalate their upward climb in their career, chosen field or current organization … enhancing the skills that demonstrate your understanding of ‘emotional intelligence’ seems like an easy and logical addition to the elements of the work we are doing today. I hope you like that accelerated feeling. Hang on!