Character, and emotional intelligence can be considered as two layers of our leadership capability and are the two layers that are the foundations to our leadership effectiveness. Character can be defined as the virtues, values, and traits that underlie our thoughts and actions. Emotional intelligence can be defined as the awareness and management of emotions, both our own and others’, to build positive relationships.
Character and emotional intelligence are linked yet are distinct layers of leadership. Both character and EI are a part of who we are as leaders. Character, our virtues, values, and traits, is the foundation with emotional intelligence being the framework of our leadership. Emotional intelligence behaviours are built on top of the foundation of our character. Those two ingredients are fundamental for making our leadership competency work. We can understand all the skills of leadership yet struggle if we have not yet built the strong foundation and framework upon which to build our leadership. Building our character and emotional intelligence is a continuous long-term process embracing both trial and error yet also developing learning and growth.
Great leaders integrate EI into their leadership every day and when practiced, EI can help develop leaders of character.
Leaders of character practice their core values of integrity and excellence in all they do. In stressful situations they do what is best for them and others. They have ability to lift people to their best possible selves and elevate performance toward a common and noble purpose.
It’s easy to live your values when everything is going well, but when things become stressful, the ability to demonstrate those values is tested. Recognizing the source of one’s feelings and being able to identify irrelevant moods helps leaders focus on what is really happening and blocks out the distractions. Practicing core values requires engaging in emotion management when values and behaviours collide, as well as managing our emotions that can make us feel uncomfortable.
The ability to understand the source and causes of emotions provides leaders with keen insight into others.
he ability to understand the source and causes of emotions provides leaders with a keen insight into others. Understanding emotions provides cognitive empathy – understanding emotions of others – to motivate others. A leader who is an expert at managing emotions of others offers strategies to help them cope with stressors.
Leaders higher in emotional intelligence achieve their goals and do so with integrity. They show care and concern for their employees. They know how to motivate and connect to others. And they successfully cope with challenges and strong emotions to inspire confidence and foster trusting relationships.
Achieving an organization’s mission is a leader’s primary duty. Intelligence in solving challenges and reaching goals is critical and undeniable in importance. Emotions are forms of data and therefore can help leaders make better decisions and become exemplary role models.
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