I have discovered that you don’t have to be born a leader, but rather you can learn and work hard to become one. There are many traits that are common in leaders, both successful and unsuccessful. Some leaders may have innate qualities that they were born with, while others may have to try harder to obtain those same qualities. One of the most important traits to have as a leader is emotional intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is “the ability to perceive and express emotions, to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand and reason with emotions, and to effectively manage emotions within oneself and in relationships with others” (Northouse, 2016, p. 27).
Having the ability to control and manage your emotions and reactions is highly valued in leadership. It is easy to see why most successful leaders have emotional intelligence, and those who don’t often times do not stay in a leadership role for very long. According to Daniel Goleman, there are five competencies to emotional intelligence (The Management Centre, 2019). These competencies consist of self-awareness: acknowledging your feelings and deciding how to act on them, social awareness: accurately acknowledging what goes on around you and processing information properly and timely (being able to react to it in the right way), empathy: the ability to share feelings with others and relate to what they’re going through, motivation: the trait of pushing people in a positive way, uplifting and empowering them along with yourself, and self-regulation: being able to handle whatever comes your way and accurately responding to a range of probable emotions.
Social intelligence goes hand in hand with emotional intelligence. That is, “the ability to understand one’s own and others’ feelings, behaviors, and thoughts and act appropriately” (Northouse, 2016, p. 22). It is one thing to be a good listener and be there for another, but it is something different to be able to appropriately react and take action to build on someone else’s feelings or emotions, enabling progress or answers for those problems and situations that may occur. One can show these leadership qualities with the ability to find a solution, even when there isn’t an obvious one available.
These traits are highly desirable when searching for leaders and it is obvious why. Of course a leader is required to be somewhat intelligent and confident, but without containing social and emotional intelligence, they would not be capable of forming proper and sustainable positive relationships with their followers. A leader gains his/her follower’s trust by showing them empathy, time and time again, along with results and proof that they can understand and connect with them. Without these things, followers would not be loyal to the leader and the relationship and work would be less successful overall.
In this approach to leadership, I have personally seen the difference of what having these qualities makes. Employees have been more trusting of me and do not second guess or question my decisions. They believe we are “working together as a team to achieve a common goal” (Northouse, 2016, p. 5). It is unquestionable that those who are treated with respect and who feel empowered will in turn work harder and more efficiently for a leader they believe in and trust.
Emotional Intelligence in Leadership. (2018, September 28). Retrieved from https://www.managementcentre.co.uk/emotional-intelligence-leadership/
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice. 7th Edition. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc.