“Always remember that leadership is a privilege. When you’re in a leadership role, your influence may affect the trajectories of people’s entire careers (and, often their lives!).”
I love this quote and believe so much in its premise. That is why my work with bloom is focused on helping people become better leaders. The impact of being a strong leader is not just about you…it’s about the impact and influence you have on others. Leadership is also not just a way of being in your career, it’s how you lead in your life. Every day, we have opportunities to impact others in positive or negative ways. Why not focus on how you can make others feel and be better in this world? Isn’t this a much more rewarding way to live?
How can you be more aware of your impact on others? This isn’t about just being nice or friendly, especially as it relates to people who work with and for you. Rather, it’s about knowing and understanding your own feelings and emotions and the impact they have on others. It’s about developing the skills that allow you to bring out the best in others, to help them become all that they are capable of being. It’s about building your Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
When you know yourself or have strong self-awareness, a key component of EQ, you’re more able to see the choices you have in how you react …to people and situations. For example, if you start to simmer with anger but aren’t really aware of how this feeling is impacting you, you may act out in a way you’ll regret later. But if you’re aware of what’s happening inside you in the moment, and pause to think through your choices, you’ll have a much more a productive outcome.
I work with clients all day long who believe they’re self-aware, but in actuality, they often have limited awareness of how their emotions can trigger responses that aren’t productive. This is very typical – we often don’t recognize what trips us up as we move so quickly from a feeling to action. We don’t pause to actually process the choices we have in how we respond.
Emotional Intelligence isn’t just about self-awareness and self-management though. It’s also about how well you can ‘read the room’ or be ‘other-focused’, not just self-focused. Imagine if you’re presenting to a group of people who start to really disengage with you. You miss the cues and keep on talking like all is ok. Before you know it, your audience has totally tuned you out. If you’d been reading the room and pivoted to engaging with the group versus talking at them, your presentation would have been much more successful.
The same thing is true if you’re coaching an individual who works for you. If you’re not aware of what this person is going through or struggling with, you miss a big opportunity to coach them through the situation. This is empathy. Another way to demonstrate empathy is to show appreciation or gratitude. One of my favorite demonstrations of gratitude is from Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo. She used to write over 400 letters a year to the parents of her employees. Not her employees, but their parents…thanking them for their children, her people. Wow. Her insight was that people, no matter how old they are, like to make their parents proud.
Relationship management is another component of Emotional Intelligence and a trait of great leaders. This is about recognizing the impact of building and strengthening your relationships…How do you make people feel when you interact with them? Do they trust you? Do they feel that you really care about them?
You don’t need to be an extrovert to be a great leader who has well-developed Emotional Intelligence. However, you do need to be committed to bringing out the best in others, not just yourself.
As we enter this new year, give thought to how you want to show up as a leader. It’s a privilege to lead others. Are you showing up in the best way possible for you and your team? Are you working daily to make a positive impact on the people you’re leading? Are you committed to building your Emotional Intelligence?
Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to discuss how you can be a more impactful leader.