The best leaders inspire others to do their best and to be innovative and forward-thinking. This requires emotional intelligence. This is much more than a popular buzzword; it is an essential ability to be open, humble, empathetic, and transparent.
Maximize your emotional intelligence with the following steps:
- Act without defensiveness and arrogance. This may seem obvious, but you actually may not be aware of how your words and actions come across to others. Start by watching your body language. Crossed arms, standing over people, looking around when someone is talking can all be construed as arrogance or defensiveness. Check your language for words such as “stupid,” “ridiculous,” “impossible,” “never,” “wrong,” and “crazy.”
- Practice accurate empathy. This is the ability to accurately assess someone’s verbal and non-verbal communication cues. When you do this, you understand their perspective, state of mind, and mood. Emotionally intelligent leaders make others feel understood as well as heard.
- Live your social values. Model positive values that reinforce your organizational culture and that can serve as an example to employees.
- Be appropriately transparent. This requires honest and open communication, even when it’s uncomfortable. However, depending on the situation, this should be delivered with the appropriate diplomacy.
- Lead with emotional courage. Do the right thing, even when it’s scary and the stakes are high.
- Embrace paradox and ambiguity. Accept that change and uncertainty are part of being a leader. Be prepared to stay calm, make decisions, and face challenges with confidence.