Friday, 16 November 2012

Makings of a Leader: Emotional Intelligence

We will be running a series on the qualities that make a good leader every Wednesday, and today we start with Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. This is particularly a trait that all leaders must possess if they want to become successful and revered leaders.
“As for me my role model happens to be my dear mother. She may not be as intellectually astute and charismatic as some of the role models but she so inspires me in an unparalleled measure. I so admire to greater depths her courage, humility, resolve, emotional acumen and her unrivalled emotional backbone in times of dire need,” Tinashe Chipenyu said in reference to her mother.
People expect leaders especially to be emotionally astute. If anyone is expected to emotionally break down the last person expected will be the leader. This is for various reasons including the one Tinashe mentioned; they expect the leader to be the emotional backbone especially in times of dire need.
Emotions cloud proper judgement. That is why a lot of people when giving someone advice usually say, “Do not make decisions emotionally.” You cease to make rational decisions because at that moment your emotion is inhibiting proper thinking resulting in poor decisions. Take time to listen to people that apologise for saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way, usually they will regret being led by their anger to do what they did. This means they accept that what they did was out of order. Did you know that emotions can be deemed as influence the same way we see alcohol as an influence?
Emotions result in instability. Have you seen how some people become instable under attack? They lose grounding; at that moment they are at their weakest state and they can be manipulated because they have shown vulnerability. Your opponent or rival will maximise on this weakness and gain upper ground. If it was a debate you will lose it because at that moment you expose your weakness and cease to make sound and reasonable arguments since you will be unstable. Great leaders have learnt the art of masking their emotions. That way they are not susceptible or prone to being attacked on their weaknesses.
Failing to manage your emotions well will result in loss of confidence from your subordinates, colleagues, or followers. People follow people that exhibit signs of emotional tenacity; people that show larger than life personalities. Consistently showing your emotional weaknesses will result in a loss of confidence from your followers. While showing emotional weakness once in a while will gain you mileage as people will be happy that you are exhibiting normal human behaviour, overdoing it is certainly shooting yourself in the foot as a leader. Those that watch Sport will remember how at one time Arsenal players revolted against their captain then William Gallas after they lost in a match. They said that was not expected of their captain.
People also need Leaders that are consistently reliable in the face of whatever strain and stress to lead them. There is a saying that the last person who should jump off the ship should be the Captain of the ship. This is because like I said a leader is expected to have the answers the people face. As a leader you don’t have to be the first one to panic in the face of danger or attack. Whenever you do that be sure that you are setting up the stage for your successor to arise. Someone who will be bold enough to face the situation will score points in people’s minds and these are the same people who will be asked to replace you.
Develop your emotional skills. Yes its human to feel the way you feel when you feel but learn to control how your feelings make you act. This is a deliberate and conscious effort. For example resolve that as a leader you will never snap or raise your voice at a subordinate no matter what they do. This will be difficult at first but eventually you will get used to it. Be conscious of your emotional thumbscrews. Everyone has a thumbscrew which if screwed will result in emotional backlash. The first step to manage it is being aware of it then making a decision that even if attacked in that area you won’t get emotional. Resolve to be emotionally consistent.
How do you rate your emotional intelligence? Is it the rating you need as a leader in whatever sphere you are in?
The writer is a motivational Speaker
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