Apr 012017


Many of us are wondering what makes a truly great leader in today’s ever-changing work, social and political environments. It’s easy to frequently ask that question when we see well-chronicled evidence of the wide spectrum of leadership capacity today – from lousy to great.

We in the leadership development field have in the past asked ourselves whether it is the competency, education, particular skills or training that differentiate the great from the weak leader. In recent years we have assumed it takes a skillful combination of mentoring, coaching, and learning to create the secret sauce of great leadership. While these elements are clearly part of the mix, they don’t completely answer the fundamental question: “What Makes a Great Leader”?

One of my virtual mentors, Daniel Goleman, a LinkedIn Influencer and Thought Leader, is the author of many books that are relevant to leadership development, most notably his groundbreaking 1995 book Emotional Intelligence which launched the practice of emotional intelligence development in organizations. Goleman has a clear answer on what it takes to be a great leader. He asserts that it takes both Emotional and Social Intelligence.

This statement is both simple and powerful. As I pondered this, I connected the dots around what has helped me to be more effective leadership coach and consultant with highly diverse global clients.

I have learned that today, leadership is more than ever about the development of others. Others who will not be just followers of a strong leader, but leaders in their own right. To do this requires high levels of both emotional and social intelligence. The attitude and aptitude to work in this way are what makes us a winner! (aka “great leader”).

Key Elements of Great Leadership

  1. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – Thanks to Goleman and many other researchers in the field, it is now well established that emotional intelligence comprises a powerful skill set that assists us to effectively self-regulate our emotions through self-knowledge, awareness, motivation, social skills, and empathy. Emotional intelligence is both personal and interpersonal.

It is because of this blend of skills that EQ has been widely studied and shown to be extremely powerful in personal and professional applications. Simply said, leaders with high EQ perform better, as do their organizations, in terms of bottom-line metrics such as sales, customer satisfaction, and ROI, as well as “softer” metrics such as employee engagement and employee well-being.

If we pay close attention, the EQ framework can give us a clear answer on what is going on within us and around us, based both on our behaviors as well as those of others. EQ skills assist us to quickly “read the room,” and recognize the power and importance of relationships, team dynamics, key influencers, and the overall dynamics inside an organization.

Why is EQ is Effective?

Of the many factors that make EQ effective over the long term, it is now understood that leaders who have high EQ skills are more attuned to “HOW” something gets accomplished, in addition to the results of the effort made. This is critical to creating sustained organizational success. If a great outcome arose as a “fluke” or was based on questionable tactics, it’s not sustainable. But a great leader pays attention to “how” something was accomplished to make sure the organization learns from this success and can duplicate it many times.

Also, I have found over the years that EQ can be even more impactful when the skills are well integrated with our intelligence quotient (IQ). Why is this important? IQ help us to answer the “WHAT” of any given task or situation and create strong linear plans for execution. Integrating EQ and IQ is powerful so that a team or organization can repeat the success and has an underlying logic to do so. This is especially important when dealing with complex or challenging situations.

We have now established that high EQ creates an understanding of HOW something gets done well, and IQ brings clarity to WHAT needs to be done. But we still haven’t asked the magical third question: “WHY”. This point has been powerfully described in one of my favorite TED talks, the classic “Golden Circle” by Simon Sinek.

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IZABELA LUNDBERG, M.S. is President and Founder of Izabela Lundberg International, a global Leadership and Organizational Development firm. She is an International Consultant, Speaker, Author, Humanitarian, Artist and Immigrant Entrepreneur whose clients include from startups to Fortune 500 companies executives. Izabela is recognized as a Worlds’ Authority of Legacy Leadership, Transformation, and High Performance Impact in business and sports. She generates tremendous value and delivers exceptional results to her audience as a catalyst for producing sustainable solutions through high impact leadership to a global leader’s most pressing challenges. She is #1 International Best Selling Author, The World Messenger: From Fear to Greatness: Business, Sports & Life Lessons, and she is on the mission to create one million legacy leaders in her lifetime. Join her global movement today at IzabelaLundberg.com!  Contact Instagram

Photo Credit – viganhajdari