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9 Aspects Of Emotional Intelligence Possessed By Every Successful Leader

9 Aspects Of Emotional Intelligence Possessed By Every Successful Leader

It doesn’t matter how smart you are – without emotional intelligence, you won’t become a leader.

I work with leaders every day as a personal digital marketing consultant helping people brand themselves. Some of these people base their businesses off making others wealthy, some are multimillionaires, and many are young and ambitious entrepreneurs.

All of them want to be leaders. It’s easy to spot the ones who won’t make it unless they have that light bulb moment. The truth is it’s not hard to size someone up if you’re great at analyzing body language and word usage.

Having read numerous psychology books when I was younger, they came in handy when I started to take on clients years later. A few ups and down, but overall almost every client I have has been ready to become a leader.

I have learned that there are many bright people, but few with the emotional IQ that can catapult them to high levels of leadership. The difference between those who are great leaders and those who are average is small. What it comes down to is how often they implement their emotional intelligence.

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For example, most of us know it’s important to be empathetic and listen, but how often do we put these thoughts into actions?

The reality is that we can all become leaders. I see it with the people I help; they have inspirational stories from rebounding after open heart surgery or from broke and unemployed. It’s not easy; it starts with understanding what it takes, more specifically, these nine aspects of emotional intelligence possessed by every successful leader:

1. They listen first

Great leaders are always striving to learn, and if you want to learn, you must listen. Listening shows others respect for their opinions, and respect is the base of any relationship. Every successful leader must encourage their community to ask questions and communicate their issues.

Successful leaders help by listening to the troubles and aspirations of others; then they use their position to help them overcome these roadblocks and achieve their goals. Without listening, you don’t know where to help others; as a result, no one will follow you. Moreover, great leaders know listening to employees and customers is critical to receiving the feedback to improve company culture and products.

2. They posture themselves correctly

Body position is critical to how you communicate with others. From handshakes to straightening your back, to knowing when to lean in. It’s vital you can communicate effectively with your body otherwise you might come off as needy or even worse, arrogant.

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When someone sits down and immediately leans into a conversation, psychology tells me they have already given up their position of power or what they’re about to say must be extremely important. Also, people who fidget are either nervous or bored. It’s not good to be either one. And if your mouth is open when someone else is speaking, then you’re not listening, but waiting for your turn to speak. A successful company leader can quickly spot these body signals in a negotiation, always giving them an edge.

3. They understand the benefits of failure

Leaders embrace failures, and the great ones move on quickly from them. Thinking about failures for too long begets more negative thoughts that with enough fuel can undercut any leader.

Successful leaders assess downturns to see where they can improve the next time around, and then they do. They know each opportunity in life is a learning experience, even the ones that result in some of the worst case scenarios like bankruptcy or a failed startup.

4. They analyze every action you take and sentence you say with incredible speed

Top-notch leaders analyze people with expert speed. They worked their psychological evaluation down to a science, so they don’t let their analysis interrupt their communication. If you read enough psychology books and act as a leader, it becomes easy to identify those who aren’t.

Most leaders can make conclusions about others in seconds just by evaluating someone’s walking posture or the first words they speak. Always keep yourself straightened, always open with a smile, and steer the conversation to something mutually beneficial. If you can do that, you’re off to a good start.

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5. They keep their cool under surmounting pressure

When other people see dead ends, company leaders will keep pushing. Part of being a leader is being determined that you’ll find the answers to your problems along the way. It takes confidence, instilling faith in those who follow you, and an incredible focus on moving forward.

I’ve seen leaders survive under immense pressure whether as a CEO of what appears to be a soon-to-fail startup or a football captain motivating their team during halftime while 21 points behind. A successful leader will keep his team thriving at almost all costs because without their team, they’re not a leader.

6. They say everything with purpose

Leaders can be extremely emotional. Sometimes this can be exactly what their followers need for inspiration. Other times, it can result in disaster. Good leaders recognize the emotions that bring out the best in people, so even though they may not know the exact words to say, they’ll make sure to exhibit their passion in the right direction.

Also, successful leaders don’t waste time with needless conversation because they have important projects to finish to help their company grow. So, asking the right questions, being concise, and getting your point across in an efficient manner is crucial.

7. They take every action with purpose

As a leader, every move must be somewhat calculated. There’s too little time to waste on things that are not vital for success. They understand the value of keeping their actions strictly revolved around projects and habits that maintain their leadership.

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Without adherence to specific actions that brought you up to become a leader, you’ll soon find yourself losing control. New company hires, waking up at a specific time every morning and making time for family on particular days, they plan appropriately.

8. They are experts in managing relationships

Keeping healthy relationships is a sign of high emotional intelligence. But keeping the right relationships healthy is a sign of leadership. As you grow, not everyone who you’ve met and established communication with can remain as close to you as they were before.

Leaders know that maintaining a healthy circle of people around them is key to keeping their emotional stability. The last thing they need are employees, partners, or friends with negative attitudes. Sometimes this means family, too. Leaders understand their limits to bringing up and keeping others on their journey before they have to move on. Knowing when can be the difference in their success.

9. They self-evaluate

Self-evaluation is critical to improving. I suggest everyone take up journaling and write down a few areas where they need to improve. Self-evaluating is an excellent technique for staying humble and keeping in mind that you should always be learning. But be careful, because too much can lead to a succession of negative thoughts.

Successful leaders are always looking to better their results. If something is not working, then it requires a change from them. For example, if their company is in trouble or their relationships are deteriorating, they don’t look to blame others, but instead they always ask, “What can I do differently?”

You think you have what it takes to have a high emotional intelligence? If so, time to step up and become a leader.

Featured photo credit: Business Insider via static3.businessinsider.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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