One's emotions determine very many things in life. For a leader, emotions also have a great influence in many aspects. Success in leadership demands effective control of emotions since one has to interact with people with divergent views and personality. Thoughts and feelings of a leader may be used to great advantage. Alternatively, poor management of thoughts and feelings can result in leadership failure. Employing certain methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help one manage thoughts and feelings which help in sustaining positive thinking or attitude. In CBT, events not only influence feelings but also on the resultant behaviors. Events hardly cause either feelings or behaviors. Rather, thoughts are the ones that cause feelings and behaviors. When a leader switch from the unhealthy way of thinking to a healthy one, the outcome is feeling and acting in a manner that is more constructive. Such feelings and actions do not cause unhappiness, anger, pain, or any other outcome that has a negative impact in the way a leader interact or relate with followers.
Studies have shown that leaders who employ emotional intelligence are more likely to be successful. Leaders who employ emotional intelligence (EI) exhibit perfect leadership qualities. Leaders who employ EI have mastered the art of managing not only their emotions but also the emotions of people who are around them. Such leaders know exactly what they are feeling, the meaning of their emotions, and how their emotions may affect other people. Leading psychologists have argued that there are five key elements of EI which include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills (Mind Tools, n.d.). Leaders who can master a large fraction of these elements are regarded as people with higher levels of EI.
Leaders who are self-aware always know how they feel. They also know how their emotions as well as their actions can have an impact on the people around them. Further, leaders who are self-aware have a clear picture of not only their weaknesses but also strengths. The concern is that not all leaders have self-awareness. It has been suggested that leaders who have low level of self-awareness can improve by keeping a journal, and slowing down. A journal helps them to record their thoughts daily, while slowing down gives them time to examine why they are experiencing anger or any other strong emotions.
Leaders who score high in EI exhibit high level of self-regulation. People who exercise effective self-regulation hardly attack others verbally, stereotype people, make emotional or rushed decisions, or compromise their values. Leaders who display self-regulation are always in control. Poor leadership occur when one fails to control their emotions toward others. A leader who stereotype followers may not succeed since they will have no confidence or trust in him. Self-regulation has been also referred to as taking personal accountability. Self-regulation is one of the elements that can be improved. Leaders who wish to improve their self-regulation have to know their values, hold themselves accountable, and practice being calm.
Motivation is very important to not only followers but also leader. Whereas a leader should emphasize follower motivation, the leader should be also personally motivated. Self-motivated leaders have been found to be those who can work consistently to attain their goals. Additionally, such leaders also have high standards for the quality of the work they deliver. While some leaders demonstrate self-motivation, there are some who have low levels of self-motivation. To improve their self-motivation, such leaders should re-examine why they are doing the kind of jobs and find out the problems that causes them to dislike their jobs. Additionally, they can improve by declaring where they stand, and being hopeful of finding something good. In any situation they encounter a problem, they should attempt to find at least one positive thing about the circumstance.
Empathy has been identified as one of the most critical element for managing a successful organization or team. It is therefore necessary that leaders who wish to lead successful organizations or teams be emphatic. Such leaders have the ability to put themselves in others' situations. Being emphatic means the leader cares for the people. Such leaders have a great potential in developing other people in their teams. One may not be born being emphatic but can change over time. To improve the element of empathy, leaders should put themselves in the situations others are facing. Looking at situations from their perspectives helps a leaders to know what they can do to address their concerns. Other tactics that can be employed to improve empathy include paying attention to body language, and also responding to feelings. When team members showed signs of exhaustion and dissent for more work after completing the previously assigned, a leader should express emphatic by first appreciating the completed work.
Leaders often communicate with their followers and that is why they ought to possess excellent communication skills. It has been found that those leaders who perform well in the element of social skills in the EI are more likely to be good communicators. It has been also found that leaders with outstanding social skills are effective in the management of changes as well as diplomatic resolution of conflicts. Additionally, such leaders do not force others to do things butt instead, they ac as role models themselves since they lead by example. Building of social skills is an activity can be achieved by anyone. People have conflicts often and such conflicts need to be resolved by someone with good conflict resolution skills. Therefore, leaders aiming to score high in social skills should start to learn conflict resolution. Since the leaders also communicate frequently with team members, they should invest in improving their communication skills. Further, leaders who have exceptional social skills have perfected the art of how to praise others. One can learn how to praise team members. Giving praise to team members can easily inspire their loyalty.
Positivism is a great factor in leadership. People with positive intent tend to become successful leaders. Nooyi, chairman and CEO of Pepsico, pointed out that she learned from her father how to always assume a positive intent (Nooyi, 2008). To her, assuming a positive intent is a good approach to a problem or a person becomes better. Assuming a negative intent is not good since it makes someone angry. Nooyi's experience suggests that her success is largely a result of assuming a positive intent. Assuming a positive intent helps one to focus on the positive aspects and minimize the negative ones. Since Nooyi learned from her further, it is therefore possible for leaders to learn how to sustain a positive intent. While Nooyi pointed out some benefits of assuming a positive intent, they were more generalized.
Assuming a positive intent has other benefits to not only the leader but also the organization or a team. According to Cooper (2018), assuming a positive intent contributes largely to an improved quality of life. Additionally, Cooper argued that assuming a positive intent helps in boosting productivity. Leadership success is measured by the productivity or success of their organizations or teams. Those leaders who wish to increase the success and productivity of their teams and organizations ought to ensure that they always assume a positive intent to their followers or team members. Cooper also added that assuming a positive intent helps one to feel better.
Besides assuming a positive attitude, Goh (2018) added that mindfulness meditation is also another important element in leadership that can be used positively to improve the team's performance. Mindfulness meditation has been described as being fully on the moment. That implies that a leader who engages in mindful meditation do not get caught up in their thoughts about their future or their past. They also have the ability to resist the urge to react to things that are around them. When leaders practice mindfulness, there are several benefits that include improving learning, reducing stress or anxiety, emphatic, emotional regulation, and memory. All the outcomes of mindfulness meditation are critical to successful leadership. Leaders who want to train to be mindful meditation by first acknowledging their thoughts without judging them. One can also become mindful by employing technological solutions. Some apps developed can assist a person to be mindful.
Leaders strive to lead successful teams and organization. However, they may not attaint their mission when they do not possess leadership qualities. Events in the life of leaders influence feelings as well as behaviors. The leaders' feelings and behaviors have a large impact on the way they relate with others or followers. To improve relations with others and to lead their teams and organizations successfully, leaders should possess high levels of emotional intelligence. Additionally, leaders should practice mindfulness meditation, and they should also keep assuming a positive intent.
Cooper, K. (2018). Assuming positive intent: the ultimate productivity driver. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/assuming-positive-intent-the-ultimate-productivity-driver.html
Goh, S. (2018). I've tried mindfulness meditation, here's why you should try it too. Retrieve from https://www.lifehack.org/615507/i-insisted-that-i-cant-meditate-then-i-changed-my-mind
MindTools. (n.d.). Emotional intelligence in leadership: learning how to be more aware. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_45.htm
Nooyi, I. (2008). The best advice I ever got. Retrieved from http://archive.fortune.com/galleries/2008/fortune/0804/gallery.bestadvice.fortune/7.html
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