Are you born a great leader? Or can you develop to be one? This age-old debate has simply run out of steam for me. In recent times, I have become a firm believer that what distinguishes great leadership from average leadership is the ability to know yourself, know what kind of leader you want to be and then execute that vision with integrity, authenticity, courage and poise; in a way that engages and motivates others.
In Daniel Goleman et al’s Harvard Business Review article on Primal Leadership (June 2012), we are treated to a refreshing take on the notion of the Emotionally Intelligent leader. Here the writers pick up on the “powerful pairing” of “moods and behaviours” that drive leadership performance and they invite us to journey to a new level of self-awareness in our search for leadership ‘nirvana’.
Actions and delivery will always be a key measure of leadership performance. But, after two years of neurological, psychological and organisational research, Goleman et al have concluded that it’s more about the leaders’ mood and emotional state, and the extent to which this is understood and managed by the leader.
Being an ‘Emotional Leader’ is “not about putting your game face on every day. It means understanding your impact on others, then adjusting accordingly. A difficult process of self-discovery – but essential before you can tackle your leadership responsibilities”.
Personally, I love the addition of ‘mood’ to the notion of emotional ‘intelligence’ i.e. we all know this stuff, but, what actually happens when we go out into the ring and strut our leadership stuff. How do we sound, look, feel and play out in front of our followers? how do we affect ourselves, our teams and our organisation culture?
Goleman suggests that Emotional Leaders ask, and resolve, the following questions: –
- Who do you want to be?
- Who are you now?
- How do you get from here to there?
- How do you make change stick?
- Who can help you?
And so, the answer to my own question is … nature or nurture is not the point. It doesn’t really matter if you are born with traits that lend themselves towards leadership, or if you are the best, most eager learner. What’s really key to leadership performance is how well you know yourself and how well you manage your moods and the moods of others. Only then can you become the leader you, and your organisation, want you to be.
Ref: – Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance – Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, Harvard Business Review, June 2012