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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?”

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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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