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On Leadership: Emotional intelligence is vital for leaders

Pam Solberg-Tapper

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and the impact they have on others. It taps into a fundamental element of human behavior that is separate from your intellect. Emotional intelligence is widely known to be a key component of effective leadership, and it can matter more than one's IQ. It is critical to a leader's success.

Here are the five key elements of emotional intelligence, according to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize this leadership acumen.

1. Self Awareness is understanding one's emotions as they happen. Leaders who have greater certainty about their feelings have more insight, are better directors of their lives and make better decisions about things that affect them. A way to enhance self awareness is to keep a reflection journal of your thoughts, moods and situations that trigger frustration, anger or other strong emotions.

2. Self Management is choosing the best response in a situation versus simply reacting. It's about staying in control. Leaders with self management avoid verbally attacking others or making emotional decisions. In other words, "they think before they act." Ways to improve self management involve practicing being calm amidst the chaos, deep breathing and being less judgmental.

3. Self Motivation is utilizing emotions in the service of a goal. Leaders who are in the "flow" achieve higher performance, productivity and effectiveness. To improve self motivation revisit "why you do what you do" to get reconnected to your inner drive. When setting goals, write down the reasons why you absolutely must achieve them.

4. Social Awareness is reading the emotional climate of the people or situation around you. Leaders with social awareness have empathy for others and are tuned in to what others need or want. They have a higher level of team and organizational insight. To build social awareness, try to see things from other people's viewpoints, read their body language, note the energy in a room of people and pay attention to messages from your intuition.

5. Social Skill is proficiency in managing relationships and building networks. Leaders with high-level social skills are intelligent communicators, develop rapport, influence, inspire vision, manage conflict and motivate others to change. To improve your social skills, build bonds, give others genuine appreciation and learn influencing and conflict management techniques.

With practice leaders can improve their emotional intelligence. The better a leader relates to and works with others, the more successful he or she will be.

Pam Solberg-Tapper, president of Coach for Success Inc., is a Duluth-based executive coach, professional speaker and seven-continents marathoner. You can contact her at pam@coachforsuccess.com, (218) 729-0772 or coachforsuccess.com.

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