Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence

Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The ability to influence is intrinsic to effective leadership. Emotional intelligence underpins the ability to influence.

Leaders are those others want to follow. The seniority of a role or grandeur of a title does not, of itself, confer the ability to lead effectively. The ability to lead and to influence others to want to follow is developed through a raft of things including competence in the role and the ability to build and maintain the trust of your people.

Competence is built over the years through IQ, study, experience and the development of a proven track record but competence alone is not sufficient to build others’ trust in your leadership. In our work as executive coaches we come across many highly competent, capable people who are frustrated that they are not getting the leadership results that they want.  As is often said, with a leader it is not just what he/she does but how it is done. It is important to be able to bring people on the journey with you.

Developing trust and influence in a leadership role requires emotional intelligence. To inspire others a leader must first have self knowledge. The famous Greek philosopher Socrates counseled “Know Yourself”. Without self awareness and clarity on your own values as a person and a leader, it is difficult to for others to know you and to develop trust in you and your decisions. Where a leader operates with transparency and integrity and consistently behaves and makes decisions in accordance with a set of clear personal values, others can trust that ‘what you see is what you get’. In a leadership role, developing this trust is a building block to building influence.

To remain influential at leadership level, it is important for the leader to build a retain rapport with those under his/her leadership. Sometimes rapport with a team member can be lost or frayed during times of stress or challenging personal exchanges. The leader needs to be aware that rapport needs to be re-built if he/she is to retain a high level of influence with that person.

As well as building and maintaining trust and rapport, another fundamental building block for a leader’s power to influence is the ability to empathise. Leaders need to have the emotional intelligence to tune into others, to read non verbal cues, and to understand other perspectives. In essence, people first need to feel understood by a leader before they are fully prepared to be influenced by that person. The ability to empathise is an emotional intelligence skill. Some people have it quite naturally but for those who do not, it is a skill that can be built with resolve and application.  If a leader who is technically competent in the job cannot build or maintain a high level of influence, the levels of his or her emotional intelligence in this context needs to be examined and improved.

Contact us to improve your business performance through improved leadership or return to the Stepshift Leadership Blog for more business advice from our Executive Coaches.

Related Articles:
The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Leadership
EQ – Fuelling Leadership

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