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6 habits of high EQ leaders

"My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence." - General Montgomery



Leadership is tough right now, but maybe it has always been that way. There is a lot of change going on: from looming recession to the changing world order or quiet quitting to the cost-of-living crisis. Round every corner it feels like there is a banana skin, or a need to tread on eggshells for leaders everywhere.


Why I care about EQ and leadership

I used to be proud of staying away from ‘politics’. I felt proud that I did not get involved in skirmishes or debates. I saw myself as a doer who implemented what came down from the seemingly circuitous meetings. I felt noble about staying away from the fray but I was giving myself a free pass. I was giving myself a pass not to:

  • get involved in shaping the organisation

  • take a position on the future of the business

  • point out things that were going wrong

These uncomfortable activities, are however, the root of leadership. Leadership is a high EQ sport.


6 habits of high EQ leaders

Building upon the qualities of leaders (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management), I am going to highlight the 6 habits I think differentiate leaders and are results of their high EQ.


1. Have vision


Leader is often synonymous with manager but these are different. A leader by definition is taking you somewhere. We can blindly follow instructions from someone we trust but it is easier to know what to do when you have a sense of the destination you are going towards.


Spelling out next steps and direction is clarifying. It helps the team decide between competing priorities and places them in a position of being able to contribute to the overall goal. It is also more motivating contributing to a journey than merely completing 'tasks'.


2. Change your mind


Uncertain times bring up unexpected opportunities and also make well laid plans less attractive. It takes intellectual humility and emotional self control to change your mind and be confident in that, rather than trying to be known for completion of a doomed endeavour.


3. Encourage good disagreement


A harmonious team is not one that agrees on everything. A lack of disagreement is a red flag. It suggests either groupthink or that people have opted out of disagreeing.


Disagreement is essential for creating an open culture. In an open culture challenging someone's opinion (in the right way) is a way both people can develop and collectively lead to a better decision. It can provide innovation - having the combined views may lead to a solution that could not have been arrived at individually. Finally, disagreement in a respectful way is a good way to build stronger relationships as it requires listening and joint problem solving.


4. Give and receive feedback


Feedback is the root of improvement. To create an environment of improvement, you have to be able to deliver feedback well. The trouble with feedback is often timing and tone. Providing someone with feedback with a frustrated tone is not that helpful. Good feedback is objective and specific, delivered in a timely manner and a constructive tone. Feedback should not be a euphemism - positive feedback is important and a tool not used often enough.


Receiving feedback is important too. If you are seen as open to improving things, people will provide you with valuable feedback. We all know the story about the Emperor's new clothes.


5. Have the hard conversations


High EQ leaders know when to have hard conversations. This is often unpleasant but high EQ leaders know that communication is essential. Some leaders hide behind trying to be kind to the receiving parties not to deliver it. This is definitely an excuse.


Good leaders communication on time and understand the harm that unresolved issues does. They deal with important issues proactively rather than letting them build up through procrastination.

6. Give others credit


When people contribute to projects, high EQ leaders make sure that the right people get credit:

  • It is a motivating tool, making people feel recognised for their efforts

  • It builds trust that you will not hijack other people's efforts

  • It encourages collaboration, in that people feel more valued and secure

So what?


How is this relevant to decision-making? Here are three take-aways before we pick it up next week:


1) There is a lot of change going through now, but leadership is and has always been a way of helping you, your team and organisation to make the best of the uncertainty.


2) High EQ leaders are good communicators, giving and receiving feedback, having the hard conversations and providing praise in a timely and respectful manner.


3) High EQ leaders are clear thinkers, with a clear vision that incorporates the best information to date. This vision is fine to change as information or circumstances change.


Thank you for joining. Next week - 'EQ - the takeaways'. Don't forget to sign up to the subscription list.


Other blogs in the emotional intelligence series

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