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A Different Type of Leadership                                     by Helen Selenati

During our current times of uncertainty and turbulence, what leadership skills do you need to best manage your business and your employees now and during the next three years? Research has shown that it is not technical management skills but emotional intelligence leadership competencies that are most effective in building dynamic teams and successful businesses.  The building blocks of emotional intelligence are self-awareness and accurate self-assessment, initiative, sound-decision-making, empathy, communication, influence, adaptability and self-management.

Here’s why these eight emotional intelligence leadership qualities are so important in retaining talented employees and sustaining personal job satisfaction for the manager.

Self-awareness and accurate self-assessment:  Without self-awareness and accurate self-assessment, managers may be too quick to get irritated with others, may create problems in their work relationships and in their personal relationships, may come across as abrasive, won’t be able to admit mistakes or accept useful feedback, and won’t have a realistic awareness of their strengths or limitations.

Initiative:  Leaders who have low levels of initiative will be responding to events, rather than being proactive, thereby finding themselves in continual crisis mode.  When leaders aren’t utilizing initiative, they may fail to seize strategic opportunities, either because they haven’t started their analysis and planning process early enough or because they may resist taking well calculated risks.

Sound decision-making:  Managers with low decision making capabilities may spend more time than they can afford to in analysis, may not demonstrate the courage to make choices, may avoid taking responsibility, and may lack the commitment to execute a decision fully. 

Empathy:  When leaders don’t demonstrate enough empathy in times of uncertainty or crisis, they will likely be seen as indifferent, uncaring and in-authentic – all of which will make employees be less cooperative and less communicative.  The manager may be left feeling misunderstood, and will have difficulty “reading” their employees.

Communication:  By not communicating well enough leaders will tend to avoid getting into dialogue about important issues, will often only communicate good news and will tend to try to hide bad news – hurting trust, and will have great difficulty in managing complicated issues.  In addition, they will appear unavailable and uncaring to others, which will hurt teamwork and cooperation.

Influence:  When leaders lack influence they will fail to leave the right impression, will tend to alienate others rather than getting support, may end up working too independently and even against the group, and will have difficulty motivating the group quickly enough to address challenges.

Adaptability:  Without flexibility and adaptability leaders will tend to respond negatively to new and changing situations.  They may show emotional strain to others when they have to shift priorities; may tend to express frustration with change – even if it is for a positive purpose; may have difficulty adapting their responses and tactics to fit the emerging circumstances; and ultimately may often be hesitant in taking on new challenges.

Self-management:  Without good self-management leaders tend to react impulsively in stressful situations, possibly get overly stressed, angry or upset when facing rapidly changing situations or conflict at work; and sometimes respond to problems in a non-constructive manner – which often causes unwanted consequences.

The good news is each of these eight emotional intelligence competencies can be cultivated and developed.  Daniel Goleman has written some excellent books on this topic which are ideal for self-study. Another proven way of developing these leadership qualities is through an individualized coaching program using validated assessments, feedback and ongoing dialogue with a personal coach.

Helen Selenati is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Coach. She has a private practice in Redwood City and can be reached at helen@selenati.com or by calling 650-596-0807. Also visit www.selenati.com



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