What makes a Leader

This article tries to identify key factors in successful leaders and elaborates importance of Emotional Intelligence (El) in Leadership. It identifies five skills as part of Emotional Intelligence that enable a leader to maximize his/her performance and also maximize the performance of followers and organization as a whole. These five skills are explained below:

1. Self-awareness: It means deep understanding of one’s own strengths, weaknesses, drivers, emotions. ehavior. and effect on others. It helps to leverage strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses. Some of the key indicators of self-awareness are self-confidence, thirst for constructive criticism, self- deprecating sense of humor. etc. 2. Self-regulation: It means controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods. Biological impulses generally drive our emotions. Self-regulation helps us to be free from being directed by our feelings. People who are in control of their feelings are generally able to create an environment of trust and fairness.

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3. Motivation: Motivation is a necessary trait to be an effective leader. The motivational skill means leaders are self-motivators as well as motivators for the entire organization. They are driven to achieve beyond expectations. Some of the key indicators of motivation are passion for work, willingness to continuously raise the performance bar, perpetual optimism, etc.

4. Empathy: It means thoughtfully considering others feelings along with other factors in the process of making intelligent decisions. Increasing team work, globalization nd growing need to retain talent makes Empathy an important component of a leadership skill. Social Skills: It means friendliness with a purpose. It is the skill/ knack of building rapport with others to move them in the desired direction. Some of the key indicators of socially skilled people are adaptation in managing teams, expert persuasion, building deep bonds, etc. This article further guides on whether it is possible to learn/develop El. Research indicates that El is largely born in the limbic system of the brain and so learnt best hrough motivation, practice over extended period of time and feedback.

El can be learned and developed through sincere desire and concerted effort. The article tries to explain how the leader’s emotional style drives everyone else’s moods and behaviours through a neurological process called mood contagion. It’s akin to “Smile and the whole world smile with you”. Emotional intelligence is carried through the organization like electricity through wires. Leader’s mood is quite contagious, spreading very quickly through the business. Primal leadership demands more that putting on a game face every day.

It requires a leader to reflect on his emotional behaviour and determine how his emotional behaviour drives the mood and action of the organization and accordingly adjusting the behaviour. Couple of studies link mood with performance of the firm, supported by the fact that an upbeat environment foster optimistic thinking and positive results even in most difficult times. Research proves that leader’s mood affects the emotions of the people around them. The reason for this lies in the open loop nature brain’s limbic system.

A closed system is self regulating while open system depends on external factors. Open systems design let’s other people change one’s very physiology and hence their emotions. Many CEO suffer from something called CEO disease; one unpleasant symptom is near total ignorance on how his mood and actions appear to the organization. Either the CEO feels that he/she would be able to decipher the information or he/she believe that some would tell them about the negative effect of their mood.

Even though emotional skills are partly in born, experience play a major role in how the genes are expressed. The more we act in a certain way, the more the behaviour are ingrained our brain circuitry and the more we continue to feel and act that way. The article describes a five part process designed to rewire the brain towards more emotionally intentional behaviour. First part of the process is to identify one’s ideal self. Second part of the process is basically to come with terms with one’s real self the one that others experience.

Third part is to bridge the gap etween real and ideal self. Fourth part of the process is to keep practicing those activities. The fifth and final part is to create a community of colleague and family and call them change enforcers to keep the process alive. Finally the article concludes with saying that managing one’s mood and one’s followers mood is a task of primal leadership, it restate that mood is not everything that matters. In fact emotional intelligence is the spark that ignites a company’s performance, creating a bonfire of success or a landscape of ashes. Mood matters that much.