EQ is the only thing that will consistently separate the women from the girls, the men from the boys.
Good leaders come in all different shapes, colours, genders and sizes. In Daniel Goleman’s landmark work on Emotional Intelligence (EQ), his team conducted an exhaustive study of leaders who had successfully navigated their companies through various turbulent conditions, looking for any traits or experiences that brought them together. It wasn’t their IQ, educational background, age, height, race or any other characteristic they all had in common, but for one thing: EQ of course. EQ is the only thing that will consistently separate the women from the girls, the men from the boys.
While our Leadership in the 21st century study found 3 different overarching styles for successful leaders, all of these types had underlying values in common, and they equate powerfully to EQ. In some ways, they represent what EQ is composed of when one is displaying true leadership qualities:
1. Unencumbered thinking
The ability to think (and act) freely, without being weighed down by skeletons in the closet, attachment to outdated concepts, a preponderance of purely political considerations, or anything else that inhibits your ability to think clearly. In other words, it is the ability to be agile and flexible on behalf of your people, which is a requirement for being an effective problem solver.
2. Trusted and trusting
This is about demonstrating trustworthiness along with the willingness to trust others. Al Gore had difficulty with the latter part of this, having gained a reputation for assuming he was smarter than all of his advisors (making him deaf at times to good counsel). Trust is everything, and it goes both ways.
3. Quiet confidence
This is the most subtle and perhaps the most important quality in some ways. Being secure and comfortable in one’s skin, along with having a proper moral compass (Trusted and Trusting) is the anchor point of being of a good leader. In both of his elections and many times in office, President Obama (along with First Lady Michelle) demonstrated extraordinary inner balance. Watch any of his debates, press conferences or his speeches at White House Correspondents’ Dinners, and you’ll see what we mean. It’s not so much his verbal abilities, which are considerable, as his inner confidence and poise that truly won the day.
We firmly believe these qualities can be developed in almost anyone. But they take focus and commitment.
Can people develop the aforementioned qualities, or do you have to be born this way? We firmly believe these qualities can be developed in almost anyone. But they take focus and commitment. It’s so easy to fall from your horse into inflexible thinking, or distrust of others’ intentions or abilities, or to let circumstances play on your insecurities.
Remembering these values, getting good coaching and mentoring (something we recommend to all leaders of any kind), taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing, and surrounding yourself with good people – are some of the primary ways you can nurture these qualities.