The key EQ traits we can, and probably should use daily in leadership

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Firstly, we need to ask – what is this magical thing called EQ?

Well, for a start it’s not mysterious or indeed magic, but it’s effect can appear so! Emotional Intelligence (or Quotient) – EQ is the ability to handle ourselves and our relationships well; specifically, to recognise our emotions and those of others and to adapt and regulate our emotions to suit the needs of the situation.

Those who don’t have to work at it, appear supremely well tuned-in, well liked and brimming with integrity. For most of us who do have to work at it, we find ourselves wondering how these intelligent people do it and how to get better at it. The good news?  If you set yourself some daily EQ exercises, you can build your level of EQ, develop your self-awareness, apply empathy to your relationships. In doing so you will be giving yourself a priceless life tool you can utilise in almost all situations, not only the stressful and challenging ones.

So, here are 5 attributes you can practice daily and apply to your leadership recipe. They are some of the key differentiators you’ll notice in leaders with high emotional intelligence.

Self-reflect and “Know Thy Self”

When I say, “know thy self,” I mean know your own emotions, your strengths, weaknesses, what your values are, and what drives you as a person, your motivations.  Leaders with EQ practice realistic self-assessment and remain open to feedback.  Crucially, they understand what situations bring out the worst in them and plan accordingly to adapt and pull in talent required to meet the challenge. Awareness and acceptance of self is the start.

Learn to show your “Authenticity”

As the late great Robin Williams said as a bee shaped Genie to Aladdin… “Bee Yourself!” and that’s the trick here, or rather anti-trick!  A leader with EQ, shows up with their most authentic and best self, while honouring the authenticity and best in others.  What they don’t do is operate behind a mask or façade. You won’t hear, “Oh, he’s so different outside of work!”  Many leaders operate from a position of what they feel is safety, “I need to show X Y & Z and not let people see the real me.” Contrary to that, this is a very unsafe and tiring place to operate from as a Leader, also, should the façade slip, people will be confused and doubting the person they have come to work for.

Be assertive – not a bully

Conflict is part of life – not fisticuffs but dealing with people’s differing opinions or values.  Instead of avoiding or even worse enhancing conflict, leaders with high EQ aren’t afraid to face the conflict with a determined, pragmatic, listening ear.  Engaging with and understanding the opposing party is a far quicker route to a solution, than running away or being belligerent or combative.  Be visible, be present, be open even in the face of adversity.

Practice Self-control – and keep practicing!

Something I’ve always struggled with is trying to keep my emotions in check in highly emotive situations.  A leader with great EQ can check their own unhelpful emotions. They understand the pitfalls of acting purely on impulse.  When it gets tough, they don’t ‘Finger point’, they are curious, looking for the opportunity to learn, understand and explore the solutions with their team. The tend to be lifelong learners and will look at their unhelpful emotions knowing there is usually a lesson if they look hard enough.

Do it with Passion!

Passion is sometimes used as a word to describe those we find overbearing, energetic, loud, emotional. But it can be a powerful EQ trait that you shouldn’t be afraid of.  Passion in a leader with high EQ, is demonstrated by their motivation to achieve, their drive and desire to experience new challenges, their optimism in the face of adversity and their will to take whatever they can from the experience in order to grow and improve both themselves and the people around them. Rock up with a glass brimming, not just half full! People will sense your belief and energy and follow it.

So, go and set some development goals and practise. Be authentic and don’t overdo it. Go get emotionally curious!

Marc Valentine e: [email protected] Principal Consultant

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