rather than always trying to feed them.
4.Empathy Effective leaders feel empathy for oth- ers not because of what they are saying, but because of the emotions, intentions
and feelings that they are reading in their body language. Most people are very good at reading other
people. To achieve high EI, however, you must
not only read and respond to other people’s emotions and feelings, but you must also be aware of
and monitor your own behavior. Doing this makes
you attractive to others; not doing this makes you
someone with whom to create distance. However,
without self-awareness, your ability to be empathetic may need some work.
5.Creating Congruence Once you have mastered the aforemen- tioned four aspects of EI, you should turn your attention to social skills.
These are the soft skills that people don’t like to
speak about because even though they are considered soft, sometimes they can be the most difficult
to learn—particularly for task-focused leaders.
Many leaders focus on the spoken word, which
is important. However, a leader’s nonverbal messages and actions are always perceived and interpreted before their spoken words are considered.
Therefore, for the effective leader, congruence is
important. What you say and what you do must
be congruent. Open and positive body positions
attract followers, while defensive positions detract
followers. Crossed arms and legs, hands behind
your back, hands in your pockets and fidgeting are
all defensive positions that create distance from
your followers. The key is to become aware of these
defensive behaviors and regulate them so that you
change to positive body positions, which are attractive to followers. Open, positive body positioning
includes open hand gestures; sitting with someone
as opposed to sitting across from them or behind
your desk; making eye contact with a genuine
smile; shaking their hand using an adult-to-adult
handshake; and making certain that your words
match your body language.
If you have a positive message, but let your
body unconsciously move into a defensive posi-
tion—such as hands in your pockets—you begin
losing the emotional connection with your staff
because you are sending a mixed or double
message. These create confusion and isolation,
reducing learning opportunities with you as the
exemplar. You lose their trust because, subcon-
sciously, they pick up your words; even if those
words are positive, there is a disconnect if your
body language doesn’t match.
Who You Are
As a leader, who you are is how you lead. But, if
you haven’t thought about who you are, are you
aware of how you lead? If you are not aware of
how you lead, you can’t regulate your verbal and
nonverbal interaction with staff, or know when to
use task behavior or relationship behavior. And if
you are not using relationship behavior, you can’t
develop and effectively use your social skills.
Your job as a leader is to develop your staff; the
key is: it must begin with you. As you develop your
EI in the aforementioned areas, you create the flexibility for yourself to use different behavior to
achieve goals and create relationships—all things
that are necessary for an effective work environment. Developing or using only one aspect of EI
creates a deviation and won’t be effective. Remember, leaders are made by developing themselves.
Increasing your EI will make you a more effective
leader, and makes your job—moving people from
point A to point B—a lot easier.
Linda Talley, Ph.D., is an executive coach and professional
speaker focusing on advanced communication strategies for
effective leadership. She also is an adjunct professor who
teaches leadership to graduate students, and has published
two books on body language. Talley may be reached at
DrLinda Talley@lindatalley.com or via her website,
datalley.com, where you can sign up for her free ezine, Move