The Top 4 Skills of an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Daniel Goleman, author of Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence shares a short list of competencies in The New York Times this week.

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The best leaders in the corporate world have the knowledge and drive to make things happen—but that’s not all. They can tap into their emotions.

If that sounds hokey, consider recent reports on stress levels and lack of downtime in the workforce (not to mention lack of sleep).

Daniel Goleman, a former New York Times reporter and bestselling author, lays out the four key skills of an emotionally intelligent leader in the New York Times:

1) Self-awareness:

In a busy world, we don’t usually take the time to do in-depth self-examination, to really understand what our principles are—not what somebody told you, not what’s said in a book. What are your principles? What drives you in the midst of the storm? You can’t wait to find that out when you’re in the storm. You need to clarify those principles before you find yourself in the terrible position of having made a decision that breaks them.

2) Self-management

Being self-motivated isn’t just about meeting deadlines, it’s also about taking the initiative to care for your emotional needs so that you’re spending your energy most effectively. Is getting worn down due to office drama the best use of your inner resources? Can you set boundaries for yourself and hold them? How do you care for your emotional well-being?

3) Empathy

Empathy isn’t about fixing everything, it about cultivating the wisdom skills to pay attention, to listen, and to recognize other people’s perspectives. Empathy always needs to be paired with a healthy sense of compassion for yourself and strong boundaries.

4) Relationship skills

Mindful listening, as well as communicating, allows you to be persuasive while also remaining trusted.

Being tuned in to what’s going on in your mind is the key to a having good day at work. “People who can manage their emotions well are able to recover more quickly from stress arousal,” Goleman explains. “This means, at the neural level, quieting the amygdala and other stress circuits, which frees up the capacities of the executive centers. Attention becomes nimble and focused again, the mind flexible, the body relaxed. And a state of relaxed alertness is optimal for performance.”

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