When I was younger, I always dreamed of becoming the best one in the room.
I thought that if I could just lead a team or a project with intelligence and cold logic, everything would be successful.
But over the years, I've learned that being a good leader is about so much more than that.
Maybe that sounds familiar to you?
In my experience as a leadership coach, I've learned that being a good leader goes hand in hand with leading with heart and empathy. Let's dig a little deeper.
Learning How to Dance
Professional expertise isn't always easy to come by. IQ tends to remain relatively stable over the lifespan. But empathy is something that can be learned and practiced.
I believe that leaders need to be more than just intelligent and have a good head for numbers. They also need to be able to connect with people on a deeper level and understand their needs and feelings.
Paying attention to your emotional dispositions is a good first step. But learning how to dance, in the emotional sense, is key to success as a leader.
Dance is all about feeling the rhythm and moving accordingly. In the same way, leaders need to be able to feel the emotions of those around them and adjust their actions and words accordingly.
It Takes Two Feet to Dance
There's an old saying that it takes two feet to dance. But there are some people who try to lead with just one.
I call them "cocky cowards," and I have to eat a big piece of humble pie here as I admit that I used to be one of them.
Cocky cowards are people who still don’t know that they are leading with just their intelligence or their business acumen. They're the ones who make decisions only based on what's best for them and the business rather than what's best for those they're supposed to be leading.
They might be successful in the short term, but they'll never be able to build long-lasting relationships or trust. And that's because they're not dancing with two feet. They're not considering both the head and the heart.
But here's the thing: no one is infallible. And sooner or later, these cocky cowards, as I did, will have to step out of that safe closet. Or their facade will crumble, and everyone will see them for who they are.
Research has shown that emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than IQ.
You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can't read or understand your emotions as well as the emotions of those around you, you're not going to be a successful leader.
While your IQ is important, if you're able to read and understand the emotions of those around you, you'll be able to connect with them on a deeper level. And that will make you a successful leader.
Looking for more tips for how to lead with heart and empathy? My new book, You've Got Algorithm, but Can You Dance? is available now on Amazon.