The Real Secret For Successful Leadership: Social & Emotional Intelligence

Have you or someone you’ve known ever gotten a new colleague or CEO and the news of their extreme talent precedes them? They were known to be brilliant, incredibly smart and perhaps uniquely accomplished. Going a step further, their ability to get things done, strategize and work complex problems was legend.

Whether you had expectations of this person leading you or the team to wild success or fears of them replacing you, neither panned out. Why?

We’ve all seen and heard of similar scenarios where a “superstar” comes onboard and instead of reaching the stars together, things fizzle and you don’t even get off the ground. In some cases it’s worse: individuals as well as the organization go backwards and barring an intervention, its possible for everything to go up in flames as well.

The real key to whether or not the the new superstar colleague or CEO will live up to their own potential and other’s expectations isn’t their IQ, it’s their Social and Emotional Intelligence (S+EI). It’s more about how well they can read and relate to themselves, others and the environment.

The notion of how “smart” someone is dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and is almost synonymous with the term IQ.  That concept didn’t change until the 1980’s when Howard Gardner wrote about what many intuitively knew: being “smart” isn’t just about how fast you can process information in your noggin’ (or frontal cortex for our neuroscientist types). Gardener proposed that their are at multiple types of intelligences (at least 9,possibly more).  Then another missing piece that helped explain why the “smartest” among us don’t always come out on top came along in 1995. Dan Goleman proposed the concept of “Emotional Intelligence” and described it’s 5 components in his book that bears the same name.

Since then, Dan along with others have researched and written volumes about the topic of emotional intelligence, which is now commonly referred to as S+EI.  A simple way to think about S+EI is that it deals with the realms of personal and social competencies. It can be further sliced into the 4 main categories depicted in the 2 x 2 table below, which also makes it a great heuristic for taking a pulse of where you’re and where you need work.

1097 SIEI

Self-awareness is how in touch we are with our own emotional state of being, while Self-Management is about self-control, or how we manage our emotions and behaviors.  Social-awareness is how in-touch or in-tune we can be with others as well as our environment, while Social-management is how well we interact with situations, people in our environment and the interaction between the two.  Specific competencies have been described for each category, although they differ a bit depending on who you read.

Unlike traditional IQ, which most say is relatively fixed (there is still some debate), your S+EI quotient can be improved. There are a number of S+EI instruments that can be used to measure your S+EI abilities.  Likewise, there are strategies, approaches and exercises that have been shown to improve specific competencies and your overall S+EI “quotient”.

The next question that needs to be asked is: “Does S+EI really matter?”  Great question. Easy answer: Yes it does, and in spades.  While classical “smarts” and skill are still important, they are better thought about as being the ante to get in the game, or baseline requirements if you will. S+EI on the other hand, is the game changer that differentiates the good from the great. Having leaders and teammates with high levels of S+EI is also a game changer for your business.

How high is your S+EI?  Even if you don’t have a specific “score” to refer to, I bet you have some idea. You probably rank high in some S+EI areas if others have remarked about your calmness under pressure, ability to think and keep your cool when provoked, defuse tense situations or to get the best out of others. On the other hand, if you have any of the qualities of these kinds of leaders, then you have some work to do…..and you better start now if you want to truly succeed in life and business.

More on why S+EI matters next time.

How To Identify A “Bad” Leader…..And Not Become One!!!

So what do “bad” or dissonant leaders look like? They come in several forms.

Some are easy to spot (top 3 below) while others (last 2 below) often hide under a veneer of charm and charisma in order to mislead and manipulate.

  • The Clueless– these operate out of a Pollyanna view and remain oblivious to the realities around them most of the time. They often blindly assume the rest of the world is of the same viewpoint and emotional state these are (they can be self-absorbed as well)
  • The Self-absorbed– they are in it primarily for themselves and their priorities ultimately emanate from and benefit their own self-interests (they can be clueless as well)
  • The Inept– these are the folks are in over their heads….often promoted to their level of incompetence. Instead of having the awareness or courage to step-down, they just press on and hope for the best
  • The Manipulator– while self-absorbed, these go one step further in that they skillfully use their charm, power, magnetism and suave to intentionally mislead others and use them to get what they want
  • The Demagougue– these type of dissonant leaders are the worst because they can be very, very adept at motivating and moving people. Unfortunately, they do this by polarizing people with a “us vs them” mentality and preying on negative survival emotions in order to achieve selfish, demeaning, or in worst case, destructive ends (think brutal dictators here).

0196 DissonantTypes IThe havoc wreaked by the first three can be described as collateral damage. The last two however, are dangerous and concerning because the damage and harm they cause is intentional. To make matters worse, their intelligence, charisma and ability to negatively manipulate emotions confuses followers and makes it hard to recognize them for who and what they really are. Too often, people recognize them for who they are only after being caught-up in their wake or after the damage has been done.  Been there/done that?

Regardless, the real question is, “Is there a way to avoid these leaders”?  Yes, and simply being aware is the first step if you want steer clear.  Unfortunately, sometimes coming under their authority isn’t always within your control, or you realize you’ve made a mistake. What then?  Regardless of your situation, just ask yourself: “Do the actions of this leader violate the individual or lead a person contrary to the beneficial and/or transcendent purpose which they desire?” Red flags need to go up if the answer is “yes” and you haven’t yet committed to that leader.  If find you’re already following one of these 5 types, then it’s time to determine your next steps.  If you have to wrestle with leaving,  don’t get conflicted by the loyalty issue; people don’t leave companies, they leave poor leaders.  By the way, regularly checking in and asking yourself the same question can help you from becoming a dissonant leader (it can happen!!!).

I don’t think most leaders start out aspiring to become a dissonant leader. What they usually lack in spades, however, are EI/SI abilities and they need to learn them.  If that’s the case and we also assume their followers don’t want to live in that pain, then there is hope for a better day and a better way.  Things can change.

And that’s where resonant leadership comes in. The foundation and defining trait of resonant leaders is that they do have EI/SI abilities spades. Learning some specifics about EI/SI abilities, skills and how to acquire and improve them is the next step.

Until next time.

Who Else Wants to Avoid This Leader?

I realize I’ve been blessed in my 30+ years in the professional work force to have really, really great “bosses” who were exceptional leaders and mentors. In fact, aside from some jobs I had in high school I can honestly say that I’ve never had to work very long for a “bad boss” (aka poor leader).

Unfortunately, many of my friends, colleagues and those I’ve led have had to endure at least one of these poor leaders and sometimes several.  Having had a “bad boss” appears to be the status quo experience for most people.  That’s flat-out wrong and a real loss for both the leader and their followers.  That’s why when I see the loss and sometimes carnage these negative leaders leave in their wake, I’m extremely grateful I haven’t had to experience much of it personally.  It’s also one reason I’m motivated to do something about it.

Just how bad an experience one can have when working with poor leader can vary and ranges from comical to horrid. Using a judgmental term like “bad” leader may describe how we experience these leaders, but it doesn’t help us understand that person, their toxic behaviors and how to empower positive change. Using a 4-letter word doesn’t help either. The term dissonant leader, on the other hand, does.

What’s a dissonant leader? A dissonant leader is primarily someone who’s out of touch with their own emotional state as well the emotional state of the people and groups they lead. In other words, even though they may be intellectually brilliant and skillful, they flunk the fundamental task of leadership: to prime and sustain the emotions of those they lead.

What’s the effect and cost of dissonant leadership? Here are a few that take place on a personal level for their followers:

  • Sucks their life out
  • Burns them out
  • Builds physiologic and psychologic distress
  • Causes them to leave

The other disheartening reality is that these effects don’t stay at the office or on the field; they overflow to home-life and outside work relationships as well.

Are specific faces and names coming to mind for you yet?  If not, take a minute to think of a poor leader in your past…specific face and name….that you worked for (or are working for) and under whose leadership you regularly experienced these effects.  What emotions did thinking about them generate in you? What emotions do you still experience and carry with you?  The effects of dissonant leadership don’t just stay at the office, do they?

I don’t want you to leave this post in a negative state after reading it, so if you actually took action on what I asked above, do this:  take a minute and think of a great leader in your past…specific face and name….that you worked for (or are working for). What kind of emotions did you experience when serving under their leadership? How did they make you feel and what did they inspire in you?

The contrast in emotions elicited by dissonant and resonant leaders in their followers is a defining and practical one. The rest flows from there.

Next post we’ll look at different types of dissonant leaders and how to recognize them so you can do something about it.

Until next time.

Sure-fire Path To Effective, Applied Leadership

Ever gotten in your car, pulled out of the drive way, and quickly realized before getting on the road you needed to stop and punch in the GPS coordinates of where you’re going? I had that same feeling after re-reading my last two posts in this series on Leadership. In both cases, getting the big picture overview of the road ahead can be extremely helpful.

So despite my last post to the contrary, I’m not going to launch into more detail now about what makes a resonant leader. Instead, I’ve decided to first outline what I see as a 3-part model of applied leadership.  That way there is a landmark to refer back to as the series unfolds.  Here it is:

1. Resonate leadership– who you are, your own state of being and how well you are in tune or resonate with the emotions of others. Strong resonate leaders are characterized by high levels of Emotional and Social intelligence (EI/SI).

2. Transformational leadership– how you express yourself as a leader, but more so how other people experience, are impacted and transformed by your leadership in four primary ways (the 4 “I’s”, which will be discussed in future posts in this series).

3. Leadership Styles–  How you apply your leadership. The 6 distinct styles described by Daniel Goleman, with each one comprised and characterized by it’s own set of coordinated activities. While all 6 have their place, four readily foster resonance while two in particular can easily regress into dissonance (and yes, each of these will be discussed in future posts).

Both components one and two above are inter-related and highly relational in nature. At their core, they deal with who you are; your being a leader. In order to be a strong resonant and transformational leader, you have to first lead yourself well so you can then do the same for others. If you have these components right, the rest often takes care of itself…..often, but not always. A third component is needed.

If the first two components of applied leadership are about being, then the 3rd component characterizes how you do leadership. “Doing” leadership well means making best-practice application with and among those who follow you. Evidence shows that this is where the best leaders separate themselves from all the rest. They’re able to selectively app0194 3PartModel iily, at the right time and in the right situations, the 6 leadership styles of doing leadership that are undergirded by a strong foundation of EI/SI.

As Goleman says, “no creature can fly with just one wing. Gifted leadership occurs where heart and head—feeling and thought—meet. These are the two wings that allow a leader to soar”.

This 3-part applied model takes into account both wings. In addition to being simple, realistic and evidence-based,  it also serves as an easy heuristic and diagnostic tool see where you’re at and where you need to focus so you can take your leadership to the next level.

Now that I’ve outlined the 3-part model, I’ll pick-up in my next post more on the topic of resonant leadership and what it takes to become a resonant leader.

Are you soaring yet? If not, what’s your next best step?


Until next time.

Who Else Wants To Be A Resonant Leader?

I always loved connecting with a baseball on the sweet-spot of the bat. The ball seemed to travel at lightning-speed with very little effort on my part. On the other hand, I absolutely hated connecting with a ball toward the handle of the bat. Not only did my pinky and thumb sting and go numb, but it took a lot of effort and he ball went no where. In both cases there was a connection, but only in the  sweet-spot did it resonate well; the other produced dissonance and stinging fingers.

Our leadership is a lot like that.  When we connect well with others, it hits their “sweet-spot” and resonates with them. When that happens, they are very likely to catch our vision, adopt our cause as their own, and expend their time and energy in making it happen.

The bat/ball analogy is the best way I know to illustrate what has been called Resonate Leadership.  The foundational element of Resonate Leadership is a high level of emotional and social intelligence (EI/SI). According to Richard Boyatzis and Daniel Goleman, researchers who have studied and written extensively about resonant leadership, the best leaders get results by first courageously striving to become the best person they can be. In other words, it starts with them.

Resonant leaders:

  • Know their strengths and limitations
  • Know where they are going
  • Have the skills to course-correct internally along the way.
  • Are attuned to themselves as well as the deepest needs and dreams of the individuals and collective organizations they lead

Because resonate leaders lead themselves well, others sense they will be lead in the same way and are willing to follow…..and possibly be transformed along the way.

How well are you connecting with your followers? Do  you need to simply adjust your grip or adopt a whole new approach?

Over the next several posts I’m going to discuss more of what a resonant leader is, what they do, and what can be learned in order to become a better resonate leader ourselves.
Stay tuned!

A Secret To Putting Legs On Leadership

I’ve always been interested in the topic of Leadership. For many years the topic of Leadership seemed to me to be a twin-sister to History.  As a boy I loved reading about it because it was inspiring and provided me with a lot of good role models and heroes. Later as an Air Force officer I had to read it as part of formal professional development courses.  In both cases what I read seemed good to know, but it was hard to connect the dots on what I could actually do in an intentional, informed and ongoing way to become a better leader.

That changed noticeably when I began to learn about Resonant and Transformational leadership. These two styles of leadership fall under the Relationship theory of leadership, which is just one of the eight major leadership theory categories below.

  1. “Great Man”
  2. Trait
  3. Contingency
  4. Situational
  5. Behavioral
  6. Participative
  7. Management
  8. Relational

Unlike other approaches, Resonant and Transformational leadership can really help you move the needle if you’re seeking to build practical leadership skills for immediate application.  And those 2 approaches makes sense, as their main focus is on the 011LeadersLegsconnections formed by leaders and their followers. As John Maxwell says, if you think you are leading but no one is following then you are simply taking a walk (so “check six” to see if all you’re doing is strolling).

Resonate Leadership stresses the competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Transformational Leadership flows from resonate leadership and is an expression of how leaders motivate, and inspire their followers to “get on the bus” and adopt their vision. These leadership approaches provide concrete examples and action steps that allow you to observe, reflect and then act on what you learned. Being a strong Resonant leader allows you to lead yourself well and in turn, then allows you to be a transformational leaders of others. In other words, you need both; a “secret” if you would, although little is said about it.

First off, are you a leader? This recent podcast by Michael Hyatt gives 12 ways you can know for sure.  Are you a resonate leader? Are you a transformational leader? If so, how do you know?  Taking a quick pulse check could be a good first step (access via the respective preceding hyperlinks).  If not, what should it look like for you? What can you do about it?  All great questions and ones we’ll explore plus much more over the next several posts.

Finally, applied leadership is a big space. If something is working well for you, I’d love to hear about it. Please make a comment and share the wealth.