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Leadership Characteristics Today

Updated on May 7, 2014

Over the past couple of years I have been really focussed upon increasing my communication and self awareness. This was, at times, a deterrant for me progressing within the organisation. This remains fresh in my mind when I sometimes overstep the mark as I did recently. I find that when this occurs to reflect on the issue, why it occured and to then re-engage with the person that I might have overstepped the mark with. There is a host of literature on this subject, one of the most recent being Heifetz with the most famous being Goleman. So here is my story for this week:

A month ago I lost my self control and sent an angry email to a colleague. Drucker says that a key trait of leadership is taking responsibility for communication (2005, p.13) and I informed my manager that I had over-stepped the mark. Similar to the Goleman approach my manager coached me (2004, p.220) that I had failed in self-regulation and that I should apologise. Being high on the assertiveness scale I tended not to want to apologise, but once I had time to reflect I was able to consider my colleagues feelings, develop empathy (Goleman, 2004, p.222) and apologise. According to my mentor I am an example of the Goleman theory that emotional intelligence can be learned, but it needs to come from self reflection (Goleman, 2004, pp. 217-8), coaching and feedback.

I read an article by Heifetz et al this week entitled ‘Leadership in a Permanent Crisis’ that poses that post-GFC we need a leadership style that is adaptive, embraces change and allows individuals to lead (2009, p.64). The article also recommends that leaders increase their emotional self to assist in being adaptive (Heifetz et al, 2009, p.69). Being adaptive relates to working with others cross functionally and is another piece of evidence that this leadership trait is essential if I want to progress at my organisation. Social skill can also help a leader to adapt (Goleman, 2005, pp. 223-4; 2000, p.6). This is support by Groysberg et al in that social skills developed and fostered as a form of ‘social capital’ can assist a leader in reaching outcomes and having more worth for an organisation (2006, p.7). As social skill and being self-regulated are key elements of emotional intelligence, these are areas that I need to continue to self reflect, control and develop (Goleman, 2005, p.220).

I hope that sharing this insight into my experience at self awareness and realisation can help some of you as well. I look forward to hearing about your experiences in leadership as well.

Cheers Michael


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