If you are like me, you have been hearing a lot about leadership
and what it takes to be a great leader– integrity, hard work, fairness, consistency, courage. The list goes on. All those things are true. There are a lot of skills you must learn and practice to become a great leader. And I am talking about leadership at home, in your community and at work. They are all important if you want to be successful. Leaders overcome challenges, teach others to face obstacles and overcome, and develop loyalty and trust.
“Lead well” is what we tell people who have completed our leadership course.
We teach a different type of leadership, because leading WELL is lacking in our culture. We have a lot of leaders asserting their authority, but not many leaders who are leading well. The reason? Too few have developed emotional intelligence or leadership intelligence. This skill is vital to becoming a strong, effective leader.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a phrase you may have heard—it has become popular in the past few years. Experts are talking about the problems that arise when we don’t have EI. Emotional Intelligence is defined as, “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously.” EI is a must for both personal and professional success, but it is rarely combined with leadership training.
Most of the time, leadership training focuses on learning to be analytical, practical, efficient, and to develop processes for improving outcomes. You can only master these things by developing EI. If your skills outpace your character, you will never reach your highest potential. Your character is revealed through your EI, not through your productivity.
Yes, I am saying that productivity cannot be the measure of a great leader.
If all that matters is that the work is accomplished, everything else will fall apart. I remember when I was working a lot of hours while Ron was in prison. I would be gone all day. Then I would come home to my two young teen sons and be totally focused on my “to do” list: dinner, dishes, laundry, cleaning, checking homework, and prepping for the next day’s work and meals. I was super-efficient!! I was outperforming most other people and staying on top of all the chores. What I wasn’t doing was connecting with my sons.
When I would arrive home, the boys would smile and greet me with, “Hi, mom!” However, I would enter the house like a drill sergeant, “Did you finish the projects I left for you to do? What is this mess? Where is your homework? Did you put away your laundry? Why are you watching TV?” I didn’t notice that I had not even greeted them. Then, over dinner, I would try to talk with them. Neither of them had much to say. They never wanted to share their day with me. After a couple of weeks, they stopped greeting me when I came home.
Thankfully, I realized that something was wrong.
I stopped and thought about what was happening and why we were getting so disconnected. I realized that I had emotionally abandoned them in the business of my job. Productivity had taken the place of relationship. Our entire conversations centered around commands and demands. Ouch.
That taught me the importance of relationship – especially during super busy times! Making time for relationships, practicing empathy, and listening more than talking will go a very long way in your quest to become a great leader.
People need to be validated, and relationships need to be invested in.
This includes you. You need to explore and define what you are feeling, and then decide what action to take. We all know the pain of having someone in authority over us that is short-tempered, demanding, and insensitive. But can we also recognize our own faults and work to correct them? We must if we want to lead well.
It is never too late to practice Leadership Intelligence. Start taking time to connect with people around you. Greet them when you arrive. Seek them out before you leave. Invest time and energy into getting to know them. When you practice EI along with your productivity skills, you will be living out Leadership Intelligence, and you will experience greater satisfaction in your life, your relationships, and your career.
I am rooting for you!