Effective leaders are emotionally intelligent. They have the skills to manage and use their emotions. And, like all leadership skills, emotional skills – the attitude and abilities with which someone approaches life and work – can be learned and developed. Brain science shows ushow that learning occurs.
The following five-part process is designed to rewire the brain toward more emotionally intelligent behaviors. The process includes:
- imagining your ideal self,
- coming to terms with your real self (as others experience you),
- creating a tactical plan to bridge the gap between ideal and real,
- practicing those activities.
It concludes with creating a community of colleagues, friends and family – call them change enforcers – to keep the process alive. Let’s look at the steps in more detail.
BRIDGE THE GAP
GAIN MORE PRACTICE
To be a great leader today, you have to have a great head and a great heart. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The longest journey that you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.”
You might have a high IQ, but if you do not have an emotional intelligence, then you are not going to be successful. Qualities like passion, compassion, empathy and courage — those are all matters of the heart, and we can’t teach those in college classrooms.
You learn those though experience, by going out into the world, by learning those skills, by taking on different roles and then growing. It’s a developmental thing; you must develop the qualities of the heart.
Sometimes you have to go against the grain. When everyone goes left, you might need to choose to go right. That takes real courage — to put everything on the line when you might fail, when the organization might fail.
I believe that everybody has the capacity to be a leader at all levels of the organization. What people are looking for is someone who is real and authentic. People know who is authentic or not. You cannot “fake it to make it.” People see right through you.