Leadership 101

How To Use Your Emotional Intelligence To Wield Your Power And Garner Influence

Emotional Intelligence is the byproduct of the way we interact with others, both personally and professionally, and its the most accessible form of power.

Powerful people achieve success. They are able to create opportunities that lead to success, or they have those opportunities handed to them. Power can be acquired from several sources, most famously from family money and connections. Power also emanates from other sources, such as athletic ability (football hero); musical ability (rock star); intellect (IQ, intelligence quotient) that allows one to earn a degree from a prestigious school; and relationships (EQ, emotional quotient / EI emotional intelligence) with powerful and influential people. All of these power sources can be leveraged and used to propel an individual into environments where opportunities to create success are plentiful.

For the majority of us power, should we seek to pursue it (and most do not), is a resource that we develop on our own, knowingly or unknowingly, with or without intention. The EI-based power that is derived from relationships is the most accessible. This variety of personal power is the by-product of friendships, the way we interact with those in our personal and professional relationships.

To acquire this power one must be charismatic, competent and trustworthy. One must relate to others in a way that makes them feel valued and good about themselves. Those who acquire personal power through their relationships must be authentic or do an excellent job of convincing others that this is the case. People who have EI-derived power inspire great loyalty and respect.

Personal power is an integral component of leadership ability. It can be argued that the wherewithal to develop personal power originates from the capacity to lead oneself. Improving one’s ability to develop and sustain relationships by heightening EI expertise helps one open doors to opportunities that lead to success in business and life.

Below are guidelines that can serve as your EI training regimen. They were developed by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence (1995) and based on the work of John Mayer, personality psychologist at the University of New Hampshire and Peter Salovey, social psychologist and president of Yale University.

I. Self-awareness

The ability (or courage) to recognize and acknowledge one’s emotions, motivations, fears, strengths and weaknesses and to understand the impact these have on our decision-making and interactions with others. Accurate self-assessment and healthy self-confidence are required to master this element.

II. Self-management

The ability (or self-discipline) to regulate, control, or redirect one’s disruptive (read irrational, inappropriate, or destructive) emotions or behaviors and successfully adapt to changing circumstances are the essential skills here. This is not to say that one should knuckle under to adversity. Just don’t throw any chairs. Learn to fight back in a smart way that reflects well on you. When necessary be flexible, gracefully roll with the punches, or devise Plan B. Honesty, integrity, follow-through, time management, initiative and ambition reside in this element.

III. Relationship management

Building bonds, teamwork, collaboration, conflict management and social skills are the focus. The interpersonal skills that help us connect with and maintain ties to friends and allies are nurtured in this element, as is leadership ability. To strengthen these behaviors, pay attention to feedback from others, positive and negative.

Have the good judgment and maturity to display more of those behaviors that elicit positive feedback and much less of behaviors that generate unflattering comments. Realize that there is such a thing as constructive criticism and avoid getting defensive and hostile when someone lets you know that perhaps you could have handled something in another way. Furthermore, as painful as it might be, listen and check yourself when haters pounce, for there might be a grain of truth in the venom they spew.

IV. Empathy

EI does not exist without genuine empathy. Demonstrate that the feelings of others matter to you by being willing to consider the impact of your actions and decisions on others. Think of intent vs. outcome. Challenge yourself to imagine how it might feel to be in the other person’s shoes and see the situation from another perspective. Learn to take steps to hear and address the concerns of others. Master this element and you’ll become a more successful negotiator.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

About the author

Kim L. Clark

Kim L. Clark is an external consultant who provides strategy and marketing solutions to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Kim is the founder and principal of Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs.

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