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Leadership is about influence.
John Haggai, author of the book, Lead on: Leadership That Endures in a Changing World, has a great definition of leadership.
He states, “Leadership is the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it towards the goals of beneficial permanence that fulfills the group’s real needs.”
A good leader knows what is helpful for the long term, and can move a team towards those goals.
A great leader can help identify what a group is really meant for and has the ability to guide them in ways to become exactly that.
Since leadership is predominately about influence, a leader looking to grow will need to learn how to become better at positively influencing the people they lead.
Despite what some people believe—this does not always come naturally. For most, it is a learned skill.
One way to grow in your sphere of influence as a leader—further develop your emotional intelligence.
EQ, or emotional intelligence, and its five components, are critically connected with a leader’s ability to lead.
When I think about leadership and influence, one of the first things that comes to my mind is the topic of connection.
The best way to influence someone is through relationship.
You may carry a leadership title, and therefore the authority that goes with it—but your influence is directly tied to how your team relates with you on a day-to-day basis.
Bulldozing your way through a team with commands and positional authority is not “beneficial permanence.” It may get something done in the short term, but it will not have a lasting impact.
Ultimately—it is difficult to lead someone if there is a relational barrier in the way.
Despite what some may believe, relational barriers are not limited to deep offenses.
If you are too busy to be approachable, or constantly seem distracted—your team members may not feel the connection needed for success.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may be overly involved. Perhaps you like to micromanage, feeling the need to mandate every detail of a project or goal. This can stifle creativity and build a sense of mistrust.
Developing the EQ components of empathy, and even your own social skills can go a long way in bridging any relational deficits.
Another key component in developing your influence as a leader relates to the EQ component of self-awareness.
As I have stated before, self-awareness is one of the highest correlated attributes to effectiveness.
It has been researched by the Center for Creative Leadership and continues to prove itself to be among the top standing determinant of effective leadership.
If we take a minute to think about it—we shouldn’t find that statistic very shocking.
When someone lacks an understanding of the effect that they have on the people around them, how can they manage that effect?
Great leaders manage the effect they have on those around them in order to do what is in the best interest of a working relationship or team goal.
How about self-regulation? As another important component of emotional intelligence, leaders find themselves tasked with the reality of this on a daily basis.
Any leader, if they are really leading, will consistently be challenged by conflict and unforeseen roadblocks.
A leader’s ability to self-regulate can make or break these situations and influence a team’s success.
Blow up at your team, and you will distance yourself from the results you want.
Drive people to burnout with unrealistic expectations and emotional instability, and you will make it nearly impossible to repeat success.
Developing your ability to control your emotional responses to stress and problematic scenarios not only keeps a project going—it sets a positive example for those you are leading.
Finally, it is critical as a leader to establish and develop your personal motivation.
As I stated earlier—leadership is difficult. There are numerous things that can distract and discourage you from moving forward.
How are you going to push through?
Good leaders are not surprised by the challenges. They are not overwhelmed by them either.
Motivation is key to your ability to focus on what is really important and rally everything within to push towards that.
Great leaders are able to rally their energy, focus, and strength to accomplish prioritized goals—even when it isn’t comfortable to do so.
There is a book I often reference entitled, The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck.
In it he writes about the proverbial crossroads of life—two paths in the forest.
One path is the easy way. Simple to navigate, but not really leading to where we want to go. The other path is filled with challenges and rough terrain. However, we learn that traveling down this road brings us exactly to where we need to be.
Leadership is all about the road less traveled.
Getting a team to a place of “beneficial permanence” is not easy. You will not accomplish it without resistance or pain.
That is why building your EQ is so critical to becoming a good leader.
Having a developed sense of empathy, social skills, self-awareness, personal motivation, and self-regulation will set you up for sustained success and effective teams.
Great leadership is something we all strive to find and what many of us hope to model our selves after. Start today by strengthening your emotional intelligence. It is not too late to learn these important skills.
Emotional intelligence, the ability to make emotions work for you instead of against you, is an essential quality of effective leaders, employees, and people.
But, how do you practically go about increasing awareness of both yourself and your surroundings?
We’ve created our free guide entitled, “10 Things You Can Do Today To Increase Emotional Intelligence” to help you begin to learn how to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others and leverage this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. Download it here.