Have you ever thought about becoming a better leader by bringing the same skills you use as a parent to the workplace? If you haven’t, it would be a good idea to try. The heightened emotional intelligence (EI) you use as a part of good parenting involves the same styles and skills required to be a good leader and manager.
Foremost among these skills, for both parents and leaders, is the ability to relate on an emotional level. Parents who take the time to learn to relate to their children on an emotional level generally (though there are certainly no guarantees) produce well-adjusted, fully developed children who go on to lead satisfying and rewarding lives.
I believe that I will encounter no disagreement when I say that this proposition with regard to children is generally agreed upon. However, there is no such consensus with regard to leaders. Sometimes, the important part EI plays in the overall makeup of a successful leader is not afforded its proper weight. But, it is absolutely true that both good leaders and good parents use good emotional intelligence to grow others and inspire them to produce the very best they are capable of.
So, What Exactly Is EI?
According to Daniel Goleman, author of The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace, emotional intelligence is “a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.”
In other words, it’s the ability to “use emotions effectively.” The World Economic Forum has named emotional intelligence one of the key skills needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Leaders and parents know that in order to develop their kids or people who report to them, they must start with their own personal development first, including measuring and boosting their own EI. By increasing your own EI as a parent or a leader, you can also boost the EI of those around you.
We all know people who have great EI, while others, not so much. If you don’t naturally have the ability to use emotions effectively, it’s time to acquire that skill ability.
Every individual is different, but the starting point for anybody looking to acquire EI is to measure what you’ve got. One well-known assessment that I often use to assess clients is called EQ-i 2.0. It measures your self-perception, self-expression and self-management discipline, as well as your interpersonal, decision making and stress coping skills.
Once you’ve learned about your EI strengths and weaknesses, come up with a plan for obtaining whatever else you need to boost your EI skills, all with the goal of understanding your emotions, managing your feelings, making better decisions and improving your relationships with yourself and others. It’s not easy, but then again, little of significance ever is. Your coach can help you put this together.
This can create a reciprocal arrangement whereby both you and your associate (or your child) communicate at a more effective and heightened level.
Power Versus Empathy
Now let’s talk more about the relationship between the skills needed to be a good leader and those required to be an effective parent — or, more specifically, how you can use your parenting experience to be a more inspiring and successful leader.
We’ll start with the distinction between “authoritarian” and “authoritative” styles. They are not the same: The root of an “authoritarian” style is power, and the root of an “authoritative” style is empathy.
When a parent or leader operates from a place of power (authoritarian approach), he or she uses discipline and threats to try to enforce compliance. This approach eliminates initiative, creativity, personal input and open communication. Also, it establishes limiting beliefs rather than enabling beliefs. As a result, it negatively impacts self-esteem, independence and effectiveness.
On the other hand, when a parent or a leader operates from a place of empathy (authoritative approach) he or she consistently focuses on the other person’s needs and tries to be as nurturing as possible. This approach builds confidence and fosters full potential realization. The bottom line, both for children and adults, is better self-regard, self-expression and motivation, as well as an enhanced interpersonal relationship overall.
So what can you do to adopt a more authoritative style of leadership?
1. Think about the change you want to accomplish. Sometimes just thinking about what you want to accomplish is half the battle. So, think about being more authoritative rather than authoritarian. Keep it foremost in your mind.
2. Change the way you implement your approach. Instead of a “do what I say” approach, change it to one that says, “Stand beside me, and let me tell you why it would be good for us to do what I think.”
3. Listen. Instead of focusing on your own needs, focus on the needs of others. Where is that person coming from?
4. Communicate. Instead of lecturing, start explaining.
5. Welcome. Instead of needing to be right, be curious about the opinions of others.
6. Adjust. Instead of thinking only about your own (perhaps unreasonably high) expectations, see if you can adjust them to accommodate the needs of others and what they are able to contribute.
7. Give. Instead of focusing on “taking,” start focusing on “giving.”
8. Be aware of your progress. Your aim is to become an inspiring, authoritative leader who grows others.