Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

I find myself at Think Kit Day 2 with a prompt to "take a poll and share the results." The prompt goes on to say, "Is there something you've been curious about? A decision you've been struggling with? Ask the crowd, and report back on what the results might mean."

My personal challenge, beyond writing for my blog daily much less at all, is making these prompted posts relate in some way to this blog's general (same may say loose) theme of the human experience. Since I've been taking a Coursera course called Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence I thought asking others to comment on leadership would be interesting. I asked via Facebook, Twitter and email something along the lines of "Think of someone who is (or was) a good leader. What makes (or made) him or her a good leader?"

This is not Richard Boyatzis. But Mr. Lincoln just may have inspired people through hope and vision, worked compassionately, and had high integrity. Richard Boyatzis, the professor teaching the course above, told us in week 1 that good leaders – or "resonant leaders" as he calls them – have three key characteristics. They:

  • Inspire through hope and vision
  • Embody trust and caring / spread compassion
  • Are mindful / authentic / genuine / have high integrity

Good leadership is characterized by relationship with others. Boyatzis says that when asked, people say that good leaders they experienced:

  • Excited, empowered, inspired, and valued them personally
  • Helped them understand how they fit in the big picture
  • Encouraged them to take risks

Within eight minutes of posing my question, the first response on Facebook was from Tom Traynor, fellow Certified Brand Strategist and Managing Partner of the Brand Establishment. Tom wrote about the good leader he had in mind, "Someone who was unselfish, communicated openly and was honest. Worried about the benefit of many, not just the select few." Bingo. That's emotionally intelligent leadership.

Other input from Facebook:

  • "…someone who I feel like I can express my opinion to without fear of retribution if they did not agree. Also, even tempered."
  • "…led by example."
  • "Calming"
  • "…a lot of self-knowledge that he has converted to energy to lead and help others, and with great humility and integrity."
  • "Good leaders lead by example, give credit when things (go) well and find teachable moments when things aren't going so great. Good leaders are great listeners as well."
  • "…understands the broad landscape, surrounds him/herself with good people, teaches others and serves as an inspiration to others."
  • "Vulnerability and transparency."

From Twitter:

  • "Integrity and honesty." @fullcirclec / Carissa Newton
  • "A mentor who sees your potential as an individual/team/organization & challenges/helps you reach it without doing it all for you." @MsSwank / Suzanne Zaleski
  • "Confidence" @Hope_Plumbing / Hope Plumbing
  • "Someone who is willing to do work along with those he/she leads. Open to suggestions to those being lead." @StanGrabowski / Stan Grabowski

Via Email:

  • "Leaders are: Honest, Compassionate, Driven, Thoughtful, Dependable, Dedicated, and Cautious (within reason). In my opinion, they should also be humble to be a good leader. The best I've seen are. You can't be a leader without people being willing to follow. I feel being humble and thankful is a great start in this." The person writing this was describing himself even though he might be too humble to admit it.
  • Another person named a specific leader and went on to say, "He was relentless about the company's mission; that relentlessness made the entire company better."

Here's what I learned. We really do know what good leadership looks, sounds and feels like – and it's not the old command and control model, is it?

We're all leaders in some aspect of our lives, even if we're not generals, governors or CEOs. I don't know about you, but I'm going to keep looking at and acting on these comments as I find myself in leadership roles.