What makes an effective leader?
People tend to have different views of what exactly a good boss looks like. Our preferences for leadership styles can be influenced by our personality, our culture, our experience. However, there are some common themes that often emerge from research and anecdotal evidence on leadership.
Research has consistently demonstrated that emotional intelligence is related to effective leadership styles and performance, across a variety of industries. Considering the fact that a leader’s day is typically filled with a lot of decisions, interactions, and stressful challenges, it is not surprising that their social and emotional skills can greatly impact their performance.
Emotionally Intelligent Leaders
As market forces change rapidly and pressure to accomplish more increases, leaders often need to rely on more than just technical skills to succeed. As they progress through an organisation’s hierarchy, emotional and social skills become increasingly important, compared to IQ or technical skills. By the time a leader is at executive level, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is essential for successful performance.
Among other things, Emotionally Intelligent Leaders…
- Motivate, support, and inspire others; Bringing people along with them
- Cope with stress and setbacks with resilience
- Have a realistic perspective of their strengths and weaknesses
- Can understand and consider different perspectives and feelings
- Have a good understanding of their inner self, without allowing their feelings or biases to negatively impact their decision making
- Understand and manage their own emotions, and those of others
Transformational leadership is a style of leadership that has attained a lot of support in the literature. Transformational leaders enhance the motivation, morale, and job performance of their team through sharing a vision and inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individualised consideration. Transformational leaders can understand and manage their own emotions, making it possible for them to be flexible and creative in their decision making, to consider alternative approaches, and to have the self-confidence needed to take action. It is displayed when a leader works with teams to identify a need for change, create a vision to guide and inspire the team, and execute the change in tandem with committed members of a group.
There are a number of sources that support the link between EI and transformational leadership. For example, the EQ-i was used in research by Mandell and Pherwani to demonstrate that EI is a statistically significant predictor of a manager’s transformational leadership style.
Transformational leadership is an important factor at individual, team, and organisational levels. The good news is that skills that relate to it can be developed.