Leading with emotional intelligence

Success is interdisciplinary. It takes more than a specialized set of skills to reach your goals and attain new heights.

In optometry, for example, the most successful ODs are also skilled leaders, smart managers and savvy businesspeople. They hold and hone a winning combination of both hard skills and soft skills. The first category applies to specific, teachable abilities: reading, writing, math, science – a Doctor of Optometry degree. The soft skills are less easily defined, and more difficult to measure. These are ‘people skills’, such as leadership, motivation, communication, team work, and work ethic.

Someone who has mastered these more subjective skills may be described as someone who is emotionally intelligent – someone who has awareness and control over his or her emotions, and skillfully handles interpersonal relationships. It’s the empathetic boss, the clear communicator who takes time to listen to employees, the leader who understands how to motivate the full team.

Skills in this area are crucial to success. Research shows that 90% of top performers have high levels of emotional intelligence. Another 58% of success across all types of jobs is attributable to emotional intelligence.

Successfully grasping and wielding a softer skill requires experience, practice and, above all else, authenticity. True emotional intelligence and leadership rely on genuineness.

It doesn’t work by mimicking authenticity simply for the results it generates. That said, looking at the qualities exhibited by emotionally intelligent and genuine leaders can provide a good frame of reference, and a starting point for understanding how to start developing a stronger set of soft skills.

Check out these 12 habits of genuine people, and let me know of any other habits that come to mind.