We all understand that good leadership development takes a great deal of skill and practice. It is accepted that strong emotional intelligence is a foundation capability of the modern leader. But what first steps can the new leader take to build upon their own emotional intelligence and leadership skill?
Self-awareness is essential to being able to regulate our behaviour. It is important to be aware of the impact of our personality, behaviours, communication and work styles on those we lead. Being able to regulate our own emotions and to identify our particular threat triggers will further add to our emotional intelligence.
This is where self-reflection becomes critical.
Improve self-awareness and self-regulation
Many new leaders have landed the role unexpectedly, and often without any preparation or support. They can become overwhelmed by the change in focus of their role and the need to influence and inspire those they lead. An ill-timed comment, a poorly worded response, an overly aggressive reaction – these could all sour the taste of leadership for both the new leader and their followers.
I encourage those wishing to improve their self-awareness and self-regulation skills to approach these situations from a learning perspective. Ask yourself:
- Did things go as planned?
- Did you achieve what you expected to?
- What could you do differently next time to get a better outcome?
It’s important to review the situation and reflect on the success, or lack thereof, of the interaction. Approaching situations with a sense of curiosity is key to being open to the opportunity to grow and improve as a leader.
Reflecting on your leadership development
And while 360-degree feedback is a great tool, you do need to work some of this out for yourself. If you can diagnose your own leadership development stumbles through reflection, your capacity to learn from these will be much greater.
Make this reflection practice a regular part of your day. Many good leaders will block out time in their schedule to reflect – celebrating the wins as well as learning from what might have been done differently. Once you develop the habit of reflecting and assessing outcomes, you will also develop a greater capacity to take on feedback from others.
So, first steps are to build reflection into every day. In a curious and open way determine if your behaviours and actions contributed to the outcomes you wanted, or if they held you back.