This post recently appeared
in SmartBlog on Leadership:
I know I’m not the first to use that phrase. Steven Covey wrote
about it, and it’s
taught in our leadership program at the University of New Hampshire.
It’s so true! But what exactly does it mean?
In plain language and practical application, it means that
no one is going to follow or be inspired by someone who is an emotional train
wreck, a red hot mess, and can’t punch themselves out of a paper bag without
giving themselves a black eye.
1. You know who you
are and how you are perceived by others. We leadership development geeks
call this “awareness of self”. It’s not as easy as it sounds – most people have
“blind spots” as to how they are perceived by others. We overestimate our
strengths and expect to be judged by our good intentions, not by how we are really
behaving and if we have insulting the hell out of somebody.
In order to improve our self-awareness, we need to stand in
the mirror and see ourselves as others see us, not as how we see ourselves or
want to be seen. That can only happen with feedback.
In order to get feedback, we need to seek it out, respond non-defensively and
with gratitude, and then actually do something about it.
Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman nailed it in his classic 1998 HRB
article “What Makes a Leader”.
When he examined the elements of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and
social skill) he found a direct correlation with leadership effectiveness and
I’d recommend taking an
emotional intelligence (EI) self-assessment, or even better, an EI 360
assessment, where you ask others to rate your behaviors. The good news is, EI,
unlike IQ, can be improved with understanding and practice.
emotions doesn’t mean not being emotional – it means not letting the limbic
part of your brain take over the rest of you and cause you to go on psychotic
rampages. For more on how to maintain your compose, see last
4. Develop a set of guiding principles, or core values
and walk the talk. Core values could
include integrity, honesty, credibility, respect for others, and humility. Great
leaders are crystal clear on their values and use their values guide their behaviors
and decisions. With a clear and consistent set of values, or guiding
principles, leaders demonstrate consistently in their behavior and others
understand where they are coming from and why.
balance, I don’t just mean “work and life balance”. I mean taking care of
yourself – your health, practicing mindfulness, managing your stress levels,
getting enough sleep and exercise, and building meaningful relationships. We know this when we see it –
we say “you know, that Cheryl really has her %$#& together.” When you are
out of balance, it impacts your behavior, which impacts your ability to lead
So if you want to inspire,
motivate, set direction, and make a difference in the lives of others – to lead – great! But you first need to
get your own %&*$ together and learn to manage yourself.