I was recently in a conversation about personal leadership, it moved for a bit toward emotional intelligence and finally ended with in a discussion about how many leaders are just not self-aware, nor self-managed when it comes to their emotional states. Those two attributes are fundamental principles of personal leadership and are critical to long-term success as leader.
During the conversation I reflected on a great book I am in the middle of reading by Michael and Robert Frisina, “Leading with Your Left Brain.” Part of their discussion also centers around the concepts of self-awareness and self-management, which are intricately connected to a leader’s emotional intelligence and crucial to effective, successful leadership. Even though we hear it constantly and certainly aren’t lacking in current books and other literature on emotional intelligence, it seems we still find many leaders that just don’t get it.
Thinking back even to 1990 when psychologists Salovey and Mayer explained their concept of emotional intelligence they also proposed it encompasses the ability to understand and manage both our own emotions and the emotions of others. So, two fundamental aspects of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and self-management, are essential for personal leadership growth and development. How then does cultivating these traits pave the way to becoming an exceptional leader? At the core of personal leadership lies self-awareness, the ability to recognize and understand our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Emotionally intelligent leaders are in tune with their inner signals, enabling them to navigate challenging situations with clarity and authenticity.
Leader’s high in self-awareness have a strong grasp of their guiding values and intuition. This enables them to see the bigger picture, even in complex circumstances, and make decisions aligned with their vision. They are not afraid to express their emotions openly, fostering trust and genuine connections with their team.
Moreover, self-aware leaders exhibit humility, acknowledging their limitations and strengths. They embrace continuous personal improvement and welcome constructive feedback as opportunities for growth. By accurately assessing themselves, they can make informed choices, paving the way for personal and professional advancement. While self-awareness lays the foundation for personal leadership, self-management is the essential skill that allows leaders to regulate their emotional responses and impulses. Emotionally intelligent leaders exercise transparency, honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness, inspiring confidence and loyalty in their teams.
In the face of adversity, self-managed leaders remain composed and collected, providing stability and reassurance to those around them. They demonstrate adaptability, readily embracing change and viewing obstacles as opportunities for learning and growth. These leaders are driven by a sense of purpose and optimism, choosing to focus on the positive aspects of challenges rather than dwelling on negativity. Their initiative and resilience drive them to achieve their goals, and they motivate their team members to do the same.
The Power of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
Studies have shown that high-performing leaders possess significantly higher emotional intelligence than their lower-performing counterparts. Emotional intelligence, particularly the combination of self-awareness and self-management, is a crucial attribute that sets exceptional leaders apart from the rest.
Cultivating emotional intelligence then is not only beneficial for personal leadership development but also for fostering a positive and productive work environment. Leaders who lead with empathy, understanding, and emotional regulation create a sense of trust and psychological safety within their teams, leading to increased motivation, engagement, and overall success.
Self-awareness and self-management are the cornerstones of personal leadership and emotional intelligence, enabling you to navigate challenges with authenticity, empathy, and resilience. So, as you embark or continue on your journey to becoming a more effective leader, it is essential to recognize the paramount role that emotional intelligence plays in your success.
Steve Owens, Founder/President, The LEAPS Coaching Group
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