The Single Most Important Quality of Any Successful Leader (And Why)

The word ‘executive’ conjures up images of steely-eyed demeanours, firm handshakes, power suits, and boardroom battlefields. It is all about big business and letting your reputation do the talking. Or, is it? These days, most our stereotypes about corporate leaders seem to have more in common with the movies than they do real life.

It is certainly true that there was a time when success in business meant having an unshakeable image and a willingness to do the hiring and firing. Just look at reality shows like The Apprentice, which are still based on these outdated models. Today, fortunately, being a good leader is less about having the power and more about what you choose to do with it.

We believe that emotional intelligence is the new measure of great leadership and that leaders who care are the ones who can push their teams to strive the highest.

To Care, You Need to Understand

If you want to learn how to be a positive role model, you can enrol yourself in a leadership course.These programs can teach you how to motivate and inspire employees. They can give you practical communication tips and advice on how to give criticism in a constructive way. However, in order to achieve these things, you first need to be willing to take a closer look at yourself.

Emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness, as understanding your own motives and behaviours can help you identify with those of others. This is a big part of building empathy and removing the ‘us’ and ‘you’ wall that has traditionally existed between employees and their superiors. Before you make decisions that are going to affect teams or departments, try to put yourself in their shoes first. Would the decision seem fair to you?

Being a Good Listener Is Everything

It is common for leaders to confuse listening skills with the ability to diffuse situations and problems fast. Both are valuable characteristics, but being a good listener is not about immediately jumping in with a solution. It is more than just telling employees what they want to hear because this is only a temporary solution.

To avoid becoming the kind of manager who offers empty promises, take the time to think about how you’re going to respond to problems in the workplace. Don’t make commitments that you aren’t sure you can keep or talk merely to buy time. Emotional intelligence depends on honesty, transparency, and sincerity. Lead with actions, not just words.

Emotional Doesn’t Mean Irrational

There is a big difference between being an emotional leader and being a leader who jumps to conclusions, makes rash judgements, and takes things too personally. Being a boss requires a huge amount of tact, even in situations when you are being unfairly treated. From time to time, employees will rage, scheme, undermine, and rebel against your authority.

You must respect your position and respond in a way that shows compassion, patience, and empathy, no matter whether you believe that the individual deserves it. This is what being a good leader is about; solving problems in a way that is constructive and rational. For more advice on how to foster a positive working environment, check out the e-books and other learning resources here.