What makes a leader?

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HBR's 10 must reads On Leadership is a collection of essays from a range of authors and gurus (for want of a better word). First up is Daniel Goleman on what makes a leader. His idea is that what distinguishes great leaders from merely good leaders is not technical ability but rather emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.

Listen to this short video to hear Daniel Goleman describe it in his own words. 

The article in the book describes 5 domains of emotional intelligence,  his video talks about 4. I've not read his actual book, so can't tell you what is described there. The concepts and high level view remain similar wherever you look. 

  • Self awareness 

  • Self management

  • Motivation

  • Empathy 

  • Social Skill 


Emotional intelligence is often put into the category of soft skills, this phrase and the perception that it creates suggests an optional factor, a 'nice to have' rather than a 'must have', it's time we all reframe that perception. For Daniel Goleman and many others the soft skills are what are going to stand you out from the others and make you a great leader. 

Thanks to some thoughtful and beautiful gifts from a very good friend I've become a big fan of The School of Life. They are devoted towards developing emotional intelligence (how's that for a vision/purpose statement for you). Their video explains EQ from a slightly different slant, with broader concepts. They concur that in comparison to other forms of intelligence, emotional intelligence does not enjoy the prestige it deserves. 

Regardless of technological advances in healthcare, the systems we use and the (fabulous) digital world that can transform how we do things. The world of healthcare for both staff and patients will remain relational. Your ability to have a good relationship with yourself and with those around you will be what drives and steers your success. Success in your day, your role and your career. 

These skills can be learnt and built upon. You will though have to start with where you are at. Being open and honest with your current state and motivated to wanting to develop these skills. This article also uses the HBR book as a basis and (with more detail than this no Jedi) has pointers to how to develop and increase your emotional intelligence.

Understanding emotional intelligence, where your strength points are, what areas you need to develop and a concrete plan on how to build those skills is then an essential - must do -  part of your role as a leader in healthcare.