Recently I came across a book review for The Hero Code about the ten virtues of a hero. In reviewing the list, it occurred to me how important those same virtues are in leaders of people. The virtues on that list are all related to the emotional intelligence (EQ) skills. Both are essential tools for success as a leader and happiness. I am going to highlight three of the ten virtues in this blog. My goal is not to create leaders as heroes but to show the importance of these virtues to excel in leadership.
Which of these are an opportunity for you?
The list starts with the virtue of courage. I wrote about courage almost a year ago in this blog. Leaders need the courage to step into the often-daunting task of leading complex human beings and not being passive in their approach. For instance, I often hear from leaders I coach about how frustrating it is to deal with human behavior. One of the essential EQ competencies in courage is assertiveness. Leaders must be willing to step into the frustration and difficulty of dealing with humans by being patiently proactive. Avoidance may seem the easiest route, but it is often the costliest to the organization and the team.
Secondly is the virtue of humility. Definitions of humility include freedom from pride and arrogance and admitting when you are wrong. How is this important to leadership? Arrogant leaders are often tone deaf to the needs of their team members. And when leaders are too prideful, their plan is more about them and not the goals that help the team. Emotional self-awareness is a crucial EQ competency to humility, which is understanding one’s emotions and their impact on others. Because when leaders demonstrate humility and admit when they are wrong, they are more effective and respected.
The third virtue on the list is sacrifice. Sacrifice, in this instance, is selfless service in support of a higher good for the organization or team. Leaders know all too well the sacrifices that come with leadership. The time commitment and tasks involved can burn out the strongest and the brightest if there is no healthy balance and a strong EQ competency of reality testing. For sacrifice to be meaningful and not a burden, it is critical for leaders to see things as they really are, not as they fear or wish them to be. Above all, one can only effectively address what is happening if one can see the situation clearly.
How do people build and strengthen these essential tools for success?
Assertiveness/courage: Practice moving through fear and speaking up to be more courageous and assertive. Express your ideas and recommendations in a non-offensive way. Orrin Woodward said, “Courage results when one’s convictions are bigger than one’s fear.” If your thoughts are challenged, uphold a strong position, and engage people in a productive dialogue. Remember, assertiveness is not aggression.
Humility: Because leaders do not know it all, remaining humble is an excellent opportunity to learn from others. Assess your emotional self-awareness, and ask yourself what keeps you from being humble? Are you concerned about looking weak, which is more about your inner critic, or do you feel you need to have all the answers? Soliciting and listening to input from your team members is a more beneficial way to develop and engage them in a project than providing all the solutions for them.
Sacrifice: Regarding sacrifice as a leader, be aware of your mindset. Servant leaders understand the reasons why they sacrifice. As a result, they stay more grounded. And they also understand the need to prioritize and delegate, lest they become overwhelmed by how much they are giving up. Sacrifice is about serving. Practice objectively looking at the needs of your team and organization and how you can serve those needs in your position. Be mindful of the lens you use to look through in that assessment and ask yourself if you see things as they are. Encourage others to join in and share the opportunities to help the team and company do well.
Remember, you do not have to have a leadership title to be a leader. In conclusion, the virtues and EQ competencies discussed above can help anyone improve at whatever they do, and are essential tools for success and happiness. Contact us for help in building your leadership virtues and EQ skills.