The 5 EQ Traits that Separate Good Leaders from Great Ones

December 1, 2017 • 4 minute read • by Saeed


“What separates people…is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life.” ~ James C. Collins, Good to Great

Intro…

If you’ve worked with good leaders and with great leaders, you’ve noticed a difference – an array of skills that sets them apart and is based on their people management skills. What you’ve noticed but may not have been able to label, is their emotional intelligence skills. At the end of this article, I’ll provide you with an exercise to show you what I mean.

Studies have demonstrated that the ability to understand your effect on others and manage yourself accordingly accounts for nearly 90 percent of career success when IQ and technical skills are roughly similar. In other words, it is the difference between good and great leadership.

Good leaders have technical chops, set strategy and execute and make smart decisions. They problem solve effectively and know how to use company resources.

Great leaders surround themselves with great people and they know how to motivate and keep them. Truly great leaders identify, understand and manage their own emotions. They are also able to do that with others in a way that  influences team morale and productivity. Great leadership starts with self-awareness and knowing your own leadership style. Here is how great leaders do what they do:

1.      Self Awareness – This means a clear understanding of your own strengths and weakness. It is also a willingness to triple down on strengths and weaken weaknesses. It means being emotionally balanced and resilient. It means independence and self reliance and it means seeking and responding positively to constructive criticism.

2.      Social Skills – The ability to develop and maintain social relationships is everything. Socially intelligent leadership includes effective communication skills and conflict resolutions skills. It means a participatory management style and the ability to get others to buy into your vision. It’s the ability to develop and motivate teams and to provide and receive constructive feedback. If in real estate its location, location, location; at work, it’s relationships, relationships, relationships.

3.      Self-Motivation – This means the ability to works consistently towards goals while maintaining high standards for work and performance. It means having ambition and strong inner drive and knowing how to tap into that in others. It means being optimistic and resilient. Again, doing this in good times is a sign of good leadership. Doing this during times of strife, is a sign of great leadership.

4.      Empathy – This, of course, is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. What it looks like is having respect of others and listening with true intent. I cover empathy and leadership extensively in my article Emotionally Empathetic Leaders Excel at Everything.

5.      Self-Regulation – This means you do not make rash or emotional decisions or compromise your values and beliefs to win battles. You remain calm and in control in the face of adversity and challenge. You are adaptable and flexible in different situations, including challenges and crises. Above all, it means you are committed to assuming responsibility for your actions. How important is taking responsibility for your actions? The famed psychologist Viktor Frankl wrote that “Freedom is only part of the story and half the truth…. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplanted by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

Outro…

Despite conventional thinking, emotional intelligence is not a soft skill.  In fact a bevy of research and best-selling books on the topic suggest the opposite: that emotional intelligence (EI) is a stronger predictor of success which helps us think creatively about how best to leverage our technical skills.

As an exercise, I ask my coaching clients to list the characteristics of a great mentor or role model and to classify each characteristic into one of three groups: IQ, technical skills, or emotional intelligence. Almost invariably, the majority of characteristics fall into the EI bucket.

You might like to try the same exercise at home. I’d be curious to hear about your results.

Good luck.

Wait, before you go…

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

Are You a Socially Intelligent Leader?

November 15, 2017 • 6 minute read • by Saeed


“Getting angry is okay so long as you get angry for the right reason with the right person to the right degree using the right words with the right tone of voice and appropriate language.” ~ Aristotle

People throw this word around a lot. Leadership. “Thank you for your leadership,” they say. You’re welcome. But what leadership are you talking about? I put paper in the copier today. That’s not leadership. When you designate the word leadership to the smallest of efforts, you demean the word. I never understand it.

Let’s face it. Leadership is hard work. As a leader, people across your organization are looking at you, your actions, your moods and your behaviors as a guide. Leaders can set the tone for success. They can also set the tone for failure. Their energy can impact their team and their organization — with positive as well as negative results. Studies show that how you act can directly impact how your team acts. All good leaders know that shared behaviors create unity and united teams are happier, more productive, and more successful.

Social Intelligence (SI) is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal for strengthening your leadership and your team.

In his book Resonate: The Art of Connecting, Daniel Goleman defines social intelligence leadership as the ability to:

1.      Discern how people feel and why,

2.      Express appropriate concern, and

3.      Interact skillfully to encourage positive states of thinking.

SI opens your eyes to how you come across to others and how your team’s behaviors can clue you in to what they want and need from you. Most importantly, SI helps you bridge the two for a successful, collaborative team that achieves excellence.

As leaders, we have to ask ourselves:

1.      What tone am I setting?

2.      How are my actions inspiring my team?

3.      How am I managing my emotions in tough situations?

4.      How do I influence others?

5.      How do I motivate others?

6.      How do I encourage collaboration across organizational boundaries?

As organizational leaders worry about the appalling low percentage of people who feel engaged in their work, academics are trying to understand what causes an increase in engagement.

They are finding that team members’ perception of shared personal vision, shared positive mood, and perceived organizational support (POS) have a direct, positive association on the members’ degree of organizational engagement.

Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis have come up with a way to measure an executive’s social intelligence and help him or her develop a plan for improving it. The seven key skills they focus on are more than just theory … more than just boosting your “people skills” — they’re about learning and understanding how people behave both individually and as a group. Listed here are each of the qualities followed by some of the questions they use to assess them:

1.      Empathy – Do you understand what motivates other people, even those from different backgrounds?  Are you sensitive to others’ needs?

2.      Attunement – Do you listen attentively and think about how others feel? Are you attuned to others’ moods?

3.      Organizational Awareness – Do you appreciate the culture and values of the group or organization? Do you understand social networks and know their unspoken norms?

4.      Influence – Do you persuade others by engaging them in discussion and appealing to their self-interests? Do you get support from key people?

5.      Developing Others Do you coach and mentor others with compassion and personally invest time and energy in mentoring? Do you provide feedback that people find helpful for their professional development?

6.      Inspiration – Do you articulate a compelling vision, build group pride, and foster a positive emotional tone? Do you lead by bringing out the best in people?

7.      Teamwork – Do you solicit input from everyone on the team?  Do you support all team members and encourage cooperation?

So, what do socially intelligent leaders do?

They Empathize. A key component of building trust with others is empathy and trust is the cornerstone of all relationships. When employees believe that their leaders are honest, open and transparent, they are much more likely to trust their decisions. Empathetic leaders are aware of another’s feelings and understand how those feelings affect their needs. Empathy means you can appreciate what another person is going through, whether they agree with them or can relate to them or not.

They Listen. When colleagues express frustration, a socially intelligent leader knows how to listen carefully, empathize, and take measures to help improve conditions.

They Support. Socially intelligent leaders know how to provide emotional support to a colleague in distress. Goleman’s research shows that paying attention to someone’s concerns, actually allows that person to process them faster, shortening the time spent marinating in negative feelings.

They Care. Employees want to feel like they are cared about on a personal level. A socially intelligent leader will take the time to ask about an employee’s personal life. Employees feel valued when leadership shows an interest. Period.

They Engage. The socially intelligent leader observes her employees to find out what they do best. She talks to them about what aspects of their job they enjoy the most. She taps into and leverages the instincts and skills her employees have. This creates a win-win as she is able to reap the rewards of employee satisfaction, and employees grow increasingly inspired and confident about their work, skills, and talents. Moreover, they feel appreciated, that someone has their best interests in mind.

They Communicate. They are direct, but sensitive. They realize that communication is essential. If they sees performance slipping, they won’t wait very long to talk about it. They never dodge the truth, nor do they hang onto or hoard company information that could help their employees. They are not threatened by their employees’ knowledge. Quite the opposite, they encourage it.

They Collaborate. People actually expect their leaders to work for the group’s collective best interests as opposed to their own. Duh! They expect their leaders to help them solve problems and to help make their team experience more enriching. It even means helping make their career more rewarding by providing resources and reassurances of support to help them attain their goals and objectives.

A Final Word…

Leaders who emphasize social intelligence drive increased productivity and engagement encouraging employees to stay with their companies. They affect people’s abilities to perform at their best. Socially intelligent leaders recognize that emotions have a ripple effect and therefore uphold their responsibility to maintain a positive environment. They are engaged and as engaged leaders, they are in synch with their team and they are the glue helping to keep the team together. Some may argue that ultimately the evaluation of effective leadership performance is a subjective task that is based on the individual’s unique personal preferences. However, the traits highlighted above show a consistent correlation between specific behavior and employees’ perception of their leaders. These traits are closely related to the basic psychological profile of humans, which can also be applied to many other relationships in life.

Good luck.

Wait, before you go…

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

Emotionally Empathetic Leaders Excel at Everything

 

October 18, 2017 •  5 minute read • by Saeed


“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~ Steven Covey

I saw a sign once that said “Everything starts with an ‘E’.

True, I thought, ‘everything’ starts with an ‘e’ but empathy starts with ‘u’ – (you).

In 1995, Daniel Goleman, argued the merits of social and emotional intelligence competencies like self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy and their capacity to add value to many domains of life, from workplace effectiveness and leadership to health and relationships

In a recent article, Goleman defines empathy as ‘having the ability to sense others’ feelings and how they see things’ and the ability to take an active interest in their concerns.

When I ask my coaching clients what skills they want to work on as a leader, many identify empathy.

Why is this trait so important to leaders?

As a leader, job one is to influence others towards improvement and change.  There are usually a multitude of ways to get others to change. Effective leaders are able to do advanced thinking to know  which strategy will work best with which individuals. The ability to accurately predict how another person will react emotionally and behaviorally in a given set of circumstances is what empathetic leadership is all about. The better you are at this trait, the more accurate and successful you will be in figuring out the approach that will work when you want to influence others.

Research reported in Scientific American suggests that our levels of empathy – the ability to understand the feelings of others – are lower today than 30 years ago.

An increase in social isolation is one theory used to explain this finding.

The trouble is that when there is no empathy, when we don’t work to understand the needs of others, there is a significant loss of trust. This can have major implications for business where trust is essential for successful leadership and partnerships.

So what if you take a 360-degree assessment of your Emotional Intelligence Competences and find that you score low on empathy. Are you out of luck? Not at all.

While personality traits have a strong genetic component, are hard to “change” and tend to be very stable over time, every trait can be “managed.”

For example, one of my clients is very high on a trait called “Urgency”– a CEO of a successful start up – she tends to be much more impatient than most of the other people she leads. She’s always been that way, and the trait has served her well in some instances. But over the years, she has had to learn how to manage a tendency that can otherwise sabotage her leadership goals. First by becoming aware of it, and then by learning a set of mental strategies that have allowed her to be more mindful in how and when she expresses this trait.

Here’s what you need to work on if you want to be more empathetic as a leader:

1.      Develop self-awareness

Self awareness – the skill of perceiving and understanding your own emotions, is the starting point. There is no way around this. You must be able to identify and understand the impact of your feelings on your thoughts and decisions.  Many of us confuse thoughts to be the same as feelings. So when someone asks how do you feel about a project, you might respond, “I think we have a lot to do.” Or, we might not distinguish between related emotions, for example, between frustration and irritability or happiness and excitement. Developing this self-awareness is a fundamental step towards greater empathy.

2.      Develop awareness of others

Greater understanding of others leads to a greater understanding of how to engage, respond, motivate and connect with them in such a way that you are able to advance mutual goals. This social awareness is at the heart of interpersonal effectiveness. This awareness extends itself to understanding the politics within an organization and how to navigate them and the ability to serve others. Developing awareness of others means you carefully consider what people want, and plan to communicate with them in a way that is intended to meet that need.

3.      Learn to appreciate the major differences among people

One of the best examples of strong skills in empathy is people who have traveled or worked in multicultural environments. They have learned that the way they see and experience things is often different from others. People with little or no skills in empathy might have an intellectual awareness of these differences. However, until they actually experience these differences, their skills in empathy will probably remain quite limited. As Goleman says, empathetic executives are better at international  assignments because ‘they can quickly pick up on the unspoken norms for behavior and the mental models of that culture.’

Goleman has identified the building blocks of emotional intelligence to be:

·        Self-Awareness

·        Self-Regulation

·        Social Awareness

·        Relationship Management

Great leaders understand the importance of social and emotional intelligence in an increasingly globalized, diverse and collaborative workplace. Diversity encompasses acceptance and respect while recognizing individual differences and uniqueness. Open communication plays an essential role in managing diversity as does building an awareness of social situations.

Get it wrong and you’ll be seen as uncaring and insensitive.

Get it right and you will be set up for success.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

A Top 10 Roadmap for Socially Intelligent Leadership

August 29, 2017 •  8 minute read • by Saeed


The world is increasingly global.

The world of work is increasingly collaborative.

Learning to navigate work’s new byways and highways is increasingly critical to your success.

In order to lead effectively, today’s leaders need to cultivate social and emotional intelligence. This is no longer a “nice to do” – it’s a leadership requirement needed to get results and advance in any organization.

Social Intelligence (SI) is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal for strengthening your leadership and your team.

Consider this your GPS. Here are the top ten ways to learn to cultivate your social intelligence as a leader and get better results:

  1. Learn to let go of being the expert and having all the answers:The reality is, no single leader (or organization) can possibly have all of the answers. Complex business decisions require the collective input of many stakeholders. Allow yourself to be influenced by the opinions of others. Clinging to the belief that you need to have all of the answers leads to a perception of arrogance from others. Let go!

 

  1. Learn to listen actively:  Active listening is a skill that involves focus, energy, and commitment. How well you listen has a major impact on your relationship with others and the perception of you as a leader. I am always amazed at the imbalance between talking and listening that leaders exhibit. True leadership is about taking into account the opinions of others. The only way to do so is to listen. Lean in.

 

  1. Learn to lead sideways not just up and down:Leading sideways means being a leader – and sometimes being a follower.  This is the least talked about form of leadership. It means paying attention to what’s important to your colleagues and looking for ways to help facilitate their goals. It is difficult because you don’t have the same leverage as when you lead up and down. It takes social intelligence to lead sideways. It takes the power of persuasion and the leveraging of relationships – not just your title.

 

  1. Learn to build personal relationships:When you take the time to get to know someone personally, it becomes easier to build trust, resolve conflicts, lead sideways and generally be more productive. Go out for regular coffee, lunch, or after-hour informal get-togethers.  Stop looking down and dreading teambuilding events and activities or those after-work social events. Learn to embrace the informal opportunities  that can help build relationships.

 

  1. Learn to Establish trust:See my article “Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships.” You can’t be a great leader without trust. Trust is not a benefit that comes simply by virtue of your title. It is earned through relationship building.  Building trust is central to morale, productivity, and employee engagement. The good news is that you can build and maintain trust over time.

 

  1. Learn to keep your commitments:Part of the trust equation is maintaining your commitments. When you walk out of a meeting or end a phone call, and you say you’re going to do something, do it! Missing deadlines and ignoring the concerns of others is a surefire way to erode trust and respect.

 

  1. Learn to embrace diversity:This is a fundamental truth: when you get people with different perspectives together to solve a problem, you’re more likely to come up with bolder, more creative solutions. Decades of research has shown that when people work directly with someone with at least one diverse trait, it challenges them and actually makes them smarter and more diligent.

 

  1. Learn the art and skill of asking questions:If you want catalyzing insights, learn the art of asking powerful questions. If you find yourself bored in meetings, I am willing to bet that the meeting leaders are not asking the right questions or facilitating the right conversation in the right way. When meetings are one-directional, people stagnate. To innovate, use these four magic words that also demonstrate you are a socially intelligent leader: “What do you think?” Yes, it’s that simple!

 

  1. Learn to resolve conflict:Working with others can be messy and conflict is inevitable. Conflict management is about teamwork, respect, collaboration and negotiation. The best conflict negotiators lead conversations away from the petty issues people can get bogged down in and towards team goals, team interests, and opportunities for achieving win-win solutions.

 

  1. Learn how to make consensus decisions:Consensus does not mean that everyone must agree. It just means that everyone can live with the decision that was made. Involving others in the decision-making process can harness the collective wisdom of your team, and gain critical buy-in through ownership of the decision. This will speed up, implementation and ultimately result in a better outcome for your project and your organization. Institutionalize it.

Follow these ten tips and you’ll become known as a socially intelligent leader – a leader that helps to produce extraordinary results by leveraging the collective talent of the entire enterprise.

The Best Leaders Hire For Emotional Intelligence Not Just Technical Skills

July  12, 2017 •   3 minute read • by Saeed


Silicon Valley is associated with nerd culture stereotyped as socially awkward, tech savvy, sci-fi loving loners who probably don’t rank high on emotional intelligence.

But the stories I have heard about Silicon Valley scions like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg suggest otherwise. In fact, these folks rank high on emotional intelligence and the way they approach candidate interviews proves it.

Jobs famously would conduct interviews by taking a walk around the block with the person being interviewed. The longer the walk went, the more likely it was that Jobs thought the person compelling.  Surely, he was trying to get a sense of the whole person and not just their technical skills.

Musk famously asks candidates one question and listens closely to what they say: “Tell me the story of your life and the decisions that you made along the way and why you made them and also tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.”

The answer tells him who really knows what they’re doing and who’s grandstanding, and it helps him choose employees who are likely to share his goals and work ethic.

At Facebook, the focus of the interview is on connection just like the mission of the company. So Zuck wants to know: “On your very best day at work – the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world – what did you do that day?”

Obviously, these questions reveal more about the candidate than stale and overused questions with well rehearsed responses such as “what is your greatest weakness?”

What are some of your best interview questions that you’ve asked or that you’ve been asked?