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In the past, the role of a business leader was seen as virtually akin to that of a dictator – their word was gospel, their opinions went unchallenged and their decision was final. It’s only relatively recently that the world of business has changed dramatically and new thinking has started to make its mark in the boardroom
Today’s leaders must offer a very different skill set from the decisive, all powerful figurehead of yesteryear. Softer skills such as communication, active listening and building trust are all part of the make up of a successful leader. A critical attribute of a 21st century leader is to demonstrate emotional intelligence through their behaviour towards their team.
Relinquish the reins
Typically, a business leader would rise through the ranks based on professional competences and experience, chalking up promotions as the years went by until he or she reached the top of the ladder.
However, the characteristics of a good leader are not necessarily in line with being the best at a particular job role within a company – in fact the opposite can often be true. Knowing the strengths of others and being able to delegate effectively are core skills of a great leader. It is no longer so much about holding the reins tightly as having the confidence to relinquish them.
A leader needs to offer a set of skills and behaviours that engage, motivate and inspire the workforce by giving a clear vision of each individual’s future. Emotional intelligence for leadership can be summed up in five key attributes: self-awareness, self-management, empathy, relationship management and effective communication.
Self-awareness: before you can lead others, it’s essential to recognise your own strengths, weaknesses and values, so you can understand their impact on others. People who understand their own make up and who work to improve themselves make for good leaders.
Self-regulation: involves controlling your emotions and being able to adapt to change, in order to keep your team or your business moving in a positive direction. Leaders must keep their cool; calm and panic are equally contagious and panic in a leader will spread chaos, fear and unrest throughout a company.
Empathy: without the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, no leader will really understand what motivates or demotivates the people they manage. This is a fundamental part of emotional intelligence and a core leadership attribute.
Relationship management: is essential to manage the dynamic within a team that might be made up of very different individuals. Teams that work well together usually get on professionally – people spend a lot of their time at work and a huge part of job satisfaction is to get on with your colleagues.
Communication: failing to communicate is one of the biggest reasons for staff frustration which, ultimately, causes them to leave a business. People feeling isolated or misunderstood will cause relationships to fail and teams to crumble – whereas good communication will build a vision and a sense of shared purpose.
Emotional intelligence allows for change
Successful leaders must adapt to the changing workplace and recognise the challenges that today’s society presents – not least the desire for flexible working practices. A good leader will build a role around the individual who has the talent, rather than let the role be dictated by the business. By understanding the make up of the workforce as a whole, and by giving each individual control over his or her own destiny, a successful leader will apply their emotional intelligence to operate a flexible culture that builds a strong, engaged and motivated team.
Get in touch with P3PM to find out how to hone your leadership skills to get the most out of your team – and grow your business profits.
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