To lead any team requires Emotional Intelligence and Agility. But what does that mean, and what does it look like in a leader? Here are the 5 main characteristics leaders need to continually develop in order to be credible and effective leaders:
This isn’t just knowing yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses. Self-awareness requires continual reflection on how your daily behaviour impacts on others, and what triggers you to behave in counter-productive ways. Self-awareness is not something that is achieved after a
Your values are not the same as your colleagues’. Values are very personal and can change as our view on life inevitably changes. It’s easy to promote the values that look good and correspond with your organisation’s values, but if you don’t really interrogate what they mean to you, buy into them and genuinely live them every day, your team will lose respect and trust in you. It is impossible to motivate and inspire people who don’t trust or respect you. How believable are you? What really matters to you, personally? Do your colleagues know what that is? Do they know that you appreciate that this may not really matter to them? Do you let people know that you respect THEIR values and are willing to understand how their values impact on what they put out at work? And when your own values conflict with your work obligations, how do you reconcile this – to yourself and to others? Values-driven leadership is about really being authentic, and people are uncannily able to see when those around them are not being authentic
Leaders who react instinctively to others’ bad behaviour, or who lose control emotionally when they’re under stress, alienate their colleagues and reports. If you expect your team to “do the right thing” you have to lead by example. For instance, do your e-mails always achieve the outcome you want to achieve, or do they sometimes reveal you as someone who has impulsively bashed out an instruction or response on the keyboard and hit “send”, without considering the reactions of those on the receiving end? Emotional intelligence has been described
Flexibility and Agility
Old-school thinking says that leaders must be stoic, unmovable, emotionless (read: unapproachable) and perfect. We all know that’s not human, and we like to work with people who show human characteristics, but who are nevertheless reliable and trustworthy. Dealing with ever-changing emotional arenas, work challenges and uncertainties is difficult enough without the pressure of being expected to be positive in spite of the challenges you face. Imagine all the thoughts that come into your mind every day. Many of these are judgments, evaluations and emotions that we might not want to show others. It’s good to learn how not to reveal all your thoughts and feelings to others, but that doesn’t stop you from getting hooked in by them. Emotional challenges are a reality at work – anxiety about priorities, jealousy of others’ success, fear of rejection, distress over your colleague’s
Nothing de-motivates a team more than failures. Meetings that waste time or fail to achieve action or waste time; projects that are doomed to fail but are forced to continue; red tape that ties our hands from getting work done… all these inevitable frustrations in a corporate environment call on leaders who take charge and make things happen. And who don’t blame people, other departments, systems or processes when things don’t happen or go wrong. How do you as a leader take the reins when the politics of the organisation make it difficult for you to do this? Strong leaders develop the most persuasive negotiation skills to get things to happen. They know how to prioritize, plan, project-manage tasks, find the most suitable people to get things done, coach and encourage them, and delegate suitably to inspire and motivate. They also hold themselves accountable – openly, when things go wrong. Leadership means leading people – understanding what makes them tick, respecting and listening to them and knowing how to get the best out of each individual. It’s also making it your business to completely understand the macro and micro environment and context within which you’re working, so that you can tap into its strengths and change the things that are preventing forward momentum.