10 Ways to Be a Great Leader

How does a leader bring out the best in others? It starts with having Emotional Intelligence.

By Chris Sabido, Partner, Emerge

Great leaders understand that the only way for a team or company to reach its full potential is to bring out the best in all of the people who work in the organization. When they are able to help others be their best, things that all companies seek—such as increased profits, passion, engagement, creativity, and innovation—naturally emerge.

So, how does a leader bring out the best in others? It starts with having Emotional Intelligence. More than just “people skills,” Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a powerful awareness about ourselves and others. It gives us the ability to choose new ways of handling difficult situations and to break free of old habits of thinking and acting that don’t produce the results we want. When Emotional Intelligence is high, the tremendous amount of team energy that is wasted on things such as miscommunication, misunderstandings, ego trips, unresolved tension, and conflict is freed up and can be redirected toward productive, effective endeavors.

Here are a few things great leaders can do to help develop Emotional Intelligence:

  1. Have the courage to look at themselves honestly. Blind spots and those not-so-helpful behaviors that show up when they’re triggered…great leaders will look at it all. Rather than shy away from their less flattering moments and make excuses, they accept what they see. When they see something they don’t like, they look for a better way of doing it.
  2. Deal with the “messy stuff” others avoid. People often like to think of business as logical, rational, and unemotional. In fact, nothing can be further from the truth. The feelings and emotions we all experience as part of being human pop up at work the same way they do at home. Great leaders know that for any group of people to maximize their potential, they must learn to effectively deal with the messy, human side of the business.
  3. Build trust. Trust is the cornerstone of every healthy, productive, and profitable relationship. Great leaders understand this. They know their words and actions are either building or eroding trust, and they act accordingly. When trust is eroded, they act quickly to repair it, so everyone can get back on track.
  4. Be willing to be vulnerable. They know they don’t have all the answers; they don’t always have to be right. This invites the people they work with to be the same way, thereby relieving the crippling pressure to be perfect and never make a mistake from all those involved in the workplace.
  5. Be authentic. Great leaders are themselves, instead of trying to be someone else. Their words and actions are congruent with what they think and feel on the inside, and this builds tremendous confidence and trust with others.
  6. Turn “leadership” on its head. Instead of seeing “leadership” as something a few high-level executives are responsible for, they see leadership as a responsibility everyone can share in. Great leaders ask everyone to speak up, look for ideas, and recognize that others’ actions, no matter how small, directly contribute to the success or failure of the company. This provides greater creativity, innovation, and problem-solving capability. It increases buy-in and engagement, because people understand they are not helpless drones and they are directly contributing to the direction of the company.
  7. Be curious. Great leaders understand that being able to see things from a different perspective allows them to discover hidden opportunities, find the best solutions to problems, and innovate almost effortlessly.
  8. Make room for others. Great leaders understand the importance of sharing the spotlight, and making room for others to grow, succeed, and prosper.
  9. Stay away from the ABCs. Great leaders know that the ABCs—Avoiding, Blaming, and Criticizing—spell death to any leader. Avoiding things that need to be dealt with is the antithesis of leading. Blaming others destroys trust and prevents the real solution to a problem from being uncovered. Criticizing others never works…not even when it’s so-called “constructive criticism.” The ABCs kill trust, commitment, morale, and engagement, which, in turn, will kill productivity, innovation, and profits.
  10. Manage energy. Great leaders understand the importance of managing energy—their own energy and that of others. They are constantly in tune with what’s going on in the organization, making sure that energy is directed in the right direction, and that the organization is neither overly-comfortable nor on the verge of burnout.

Chris Sabido is a co-founder of Emerge, a Westchester, NY-based leadership and team development firm that helps companies bring out the best in their people. The firm focuses on three key principles: Emotional Intelligence(EQ), Intelligent Communicationand Team Bondingand has tackled challenging people issues and established permanent solutions for global brands, nonprofits, and leadership institutes. For more information, visit www.emerge-newyork.com.

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