“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
~Daniel Goleman ~
Henry is in high level management of a dominant retail company. Because it spreads nationally with global products, Henry deals with leaders on all levels.
“We’ve learned that intelligence, determination, and vision alone, will not guarantee a successful leader,” Henry says. “When we can accelerate cognitive development, we have a better chance at creating successful managers and executives.”
Henry explains that they like promoting from within. The more they can understand and accelerate the abilities of their team to grow these leadership skills, the more successful their leaders become.
“Cognitive development is a way of thinking differently,” Henry says. “How do they interact, motivate, and regulate themselves? How do they think about themselves and to what degree are they concerned about others?”
Henry feels these five specific skills give them a higher probability of becoming successful leaders.
1. Realistic Self-Confidence. Good leaders understand who they are. They recognize their moods, emotions, and what drives them. They know that their moods affect those around them. Their excitement is contagious. Their displeasure can be motivating or discouraging depending on how they use it.
People with cognitive awareness of their strengths and weaknesses tend to not take themselves too seriously. They can laugh at themselves as they build up others.
2. Self Control. Powerful leaders learn not to react immediately to problems or situations. They have the ability to suspend judgment and to think before acting. This gives them time to consider alternatives and options, to step back and evaluate more thoroughly. They can be open to change.
Self control also helps leaders avoid leading with negative emotions. When they master themselves, it’s easier to act with integrity and to be trustworthy.
3. Motivation. Every leader must be a self-starter. Sometimes it seems leadership is swimming upstream. It takes that inner motivation to move forward and influence your organization to produce.
Leaders need a passion beyond money to motivate them to want to work. Even beyond status. “This is one of the traits we discover,” Henry says. “If the leader we are grooming doesn’t have this motivation, there’s not much we can do.”
You’ll see evidence of a manager’s motivation through his team’s commitment to succeed and his or her strong desire to achieve.
4. Understanding People. Leaders need to know what makes people tick. What emotions cause them to work hard? What concerns reduce efficiency? Good leaders are adept at seeing things from someone else’s point of view. Then, the master leader uses that knowledge to help each person be their best.
Leaders develop cognitive awareness of the people around them. This accelerates their leadership expertise as they build trust and retain talent. They exhibit more cross-cultural sensitivity and give better service to customers and clients because they have empathy.
5. Relationship Management. “We find our successful leaders understand how to build networks,” Henry said. “They listen. They respond. And the employees respond to them. It can’t be a manipulative kind of thing. It has to be genuine.”
Leaders use social skills to find common ground, build rapport, and persuade. This is essential in team building. The majority of our communications are non-verbal. A raised eye-brow. A nod. A pat on the back. Leaders with great social skills connect with their organization.
As Henry works with his succession plan, he tries to develop these cognitive leadership traits and increase their strength in each prospective leader. “When we do this, we find it accelerates or amplifies all their other virtues of intelligence, skill sets, and experience,” Henry says. “We are pleased with our results.”
Are you looking for a way to ramp up the effective cognitive development of your leadership? Contact Joel to help you expand on these traits.
Talkback: In your experience, how essential are these cognitive traits for successful leadership?
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