What is the Single Most Important Quality for a Leader?

The Most Important Value as a Leader

There are countless qualities a good leader should have. And we would be hard pressed to boil it down to one. However, if you check out several of our other articles (and please do) there is one quality which makes each and every list. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new leader, veteran leader, or someone being thrust into a leadership role out of necessity. There is one quality which makes every list.

The single most important quality for a leader is emotional intelligence (EI). Gaining proficiency in emotional intelligence allows one to have greater understanding and control of themselves, and also to recognize and manage the powerful emotions of others.

Whereas intelligence (IQ) has traditionally been valued as the most important value in a leader, new research as shown that emotional intelligence wins the day. In fact, it’s so important National Institute of Health did an exhaustive study on career success and found EI is the single greatest predictor of career success. Why is this so powerful and important? Let’s break it on down!

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a multifaceted skill set that comprises several components, including self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, and social skills. Leaders who possess high emotional intelligence are adept at recognizing and understanding their emotions, as well as those of their team members, leading to improved decision-making and better interpersonal relationships. Remember that leadership is dealing with people and solving problems. Having good emotional intelligence equips you to deal with people and solve the most common types of problems which will pop up, human problems.

Building Strong Relationships

One of the key benefits of emotional intelligence in leadership is its ability to foster strong and positive relationships with team members. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent can effectively connect with and empathize with their colleagues, leading to increased trust, open communication, and a supportive work environment. Such leaders are more likely to inspire and motivate their teams to achieve shared goals. Success, trust, and the ability to lead are all tied to your ability to build quality relationships. Both with your teammates and with clients!

Conflict Resolution and Collaboration

Leaders often encounter conflicts and challenges in the workplace. Emotional intelligence enables them to handle conflicts with a calm and rational approach. By understanding different perspectives and emotions, emotionally intelligent leaders can facilitate constructive conversations and find resolutions that benefit everyone involved. Additionally, EI enhances collaboration as team members feel heard and valued, leading to improved teamwork and productivity.

Adapting to Change

There is only one thing that never changes; and that is the fact that things always change! The rub is humans are inherently resistant to change. Change means danger. Change means discomfort. Emotionally intelligent leaders are better equipped to handle change and uncertainty. Their ability to stay composed during challenging times and effectively manage stress positively impacts their decision-making, helping them navigate through uncertainties and steer their teams in the right direction.

Emotional Intelligence and Self-Leadership

Emotional intelligence plays a vital role in self-leadership—how we lead ourselves in various aspects of life. Individuals with high EI are more self-aware of their strengths, weaknesses, and emotions. We often rip on the person (and we all know them) who is never wrong, never makes mistakes, and always wins. It’s no surprise these people profoundly lack emotional intelligence. I once worked for a guy who would routinely rant about young people and them being sensitive snowflakes. And guess who the first person was to always fly off the handle and yell at work?

Anyways, I digress. Having good emotional intelligence provides introspection and awareness of self. This awareness empowers one to set realistic goals, maintain focus, and persevere through obstacles, ultimately leading to personal growth and success.

Impact on Well-Being and Mental Health

Emotional intelligence is closely linked to mental well-being. Leaders who prioritize emotional intelligence in their lives often experience reduced stress levels and improved overall mental health. They can effectively manage negative emotions and maintain a positive outlook, contributing to a healthier work-life balance.

We here at Arise Tribe are not mental health experts and so do not, and will not provide explicit advice in these arenas (except to echo well-established, and peer-reviewed scientific consensus on mental health matters). But, we can say with certainty emotional intelligence and mental health are strongly correlated! So if you find yourself struggling, first please do seek help. We are big proponents of self-care. But secondly, consider what you can do to improve your emotional intelligence. And remember one of our favorite quotes from Carl Jung.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it ‘Fate.'”

~Carl Jung~

Erik Murrah

Author, nerd, chess player, artist, business owner, runner, mediocre philosopher, outdoorsman. Creator of the Arise Tribe.

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