True leaders realize that it’s not just what they do, but how they do it, that determines how effective they will be as a leader. True leaders are emotionally intelligent leaders—and as a result they are self-aware, know their strengths and weaknesses, and connect with their people. They are also able to maintain a flexible and optimistic leadership style, show an active interest in others’ perspectives and emotions, and guide and inspire others with a clear and compelling vision. In addition, they easily develop and maintain the cross-organizational bonds that are so critical to the success of a broader mission.
The ability of an emotionally intelligent leader to sense what others feel and to understand their perspectives allows them to develop and communicate a truly inspiring vision. Under the guidance of an emotionally intelligent leader, people feel appreciated, they are willing to share ideas, they enjoy learning from each other, they make decisions collaboratively, and they just plain get things done. They feel their work is more meaningful because they understand that their efforts contribute to the broader good of the team and the overall benefit of the organization—an organization they respect and are proud to be a part of.
True leaders create a type of resonance, a resonance the causes a passion and enthusiasm to resound throughout the group. Whenever major concerns crop up, these emotionally intelligent leaders use empathy to attune to the emotions of the people they lead, and they use that awareness to help move the team in a positive emotional direction.
Leaders who lack emotional intelligence are not true leaders, as their lack of awareness of and concern for the feelings of others creates a level of dissonance that often becomes the group’s preoccupation and deflects their attention from the mission at hand.
In Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, published in 2002 by Harvard Business School Press, Daniel Goleman (author of the international bestseller Emotional Intelligence) teamed with renowned emotional intelligence researchers Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee to explore the role of emotional intelligence in leadership. In their own words, “If a leader resonates energy and enthusiasm, an organization thrives; if a leader spreads negativity and dissonance, it flounders.”