When employers promote or hire someone for a leadership role, they usually look for someone who is knowledgeable, who can solve problems and aggressively implement solutions, and who has a vision for their work. These are all good indicators of leadership potential, but there is another essential quality that is often overlooked when considering hires or promotions to management type roles—a quality that frequently distinguishes a successful leader from an unsuccessful one: the candidate’s emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence consists of such “soft skills” as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. While not having these traits does not automatically doom a person to failure as a leader, having them greatly increases the chances of that leader succeeding. Daniel Goleman, in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ, writes that, “Emotional self-control—delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness—underlies accomplishment of every sort.” If you envision yourself taking on a leadership position at work someday (or if you want to be a better leader today), consider which of these areas you could work on, and make a conscious effort to improve.
The Power of Self-Awareness
A self-aware person knows both their strengths and weaknesses. They recognize what is driving their emotions and actions, and recognize the impact of their words and actions on others. Being self-aware makes a person more realistically confident, without becoming overbearing and arrogant. In fact, it also makes them more likely to actually listen to and hear what others are saying.