Think back to a person whom you consider a great leader. Think back to what it is about that person that makes you think s/he is a great leader. Is it some skills that the person has, is it something that the person says or is it how the person makes you feel?
If you analyze your reasons closely, chances are that you will say 'It is how the person makes you feel". Don't believe me? What are some of the skills that a great leader has? Forbes suggests that some of the skills required to become a great leader are: Delegation, Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Positive attitude. When you look at each of the skill, what do you remember of the leader? The fact that they delegated tasks or the feeling of trust they invoked in you when they delegated a task? The fact that they had a positive attitude or the feeling of 'everything will be okay" that the attitude evoked in you? Now think about the rest of the skills? Each skill is tied to a feeling that you hold closely and that connects you to the leader.
There is a ‘human’ side to leadership which many tend to forget. This human side is the ability of the leader to emotionally connect with others. Strong positive emotions create a sense of bonding between people, strong negative emotions create distance. These skills of connecting with people, showing empathy to others are all a part of Emotional Intelligence. Research has shown that people who have high emotional intelligence are more effective leaders. Moreover, analysis conducted by Daniel Goleman (What makes a leader: Why Emotional Intelligence matters, 2013, Harvard Business Review, pp 88) has showed that emotional intelligence plays an increasingly important role at the highest levels of the company where differences in technical skills are of negligible importance.
But a person can only do so if they are connected to their own emotions.
Self awareness is the ability to understand your strengths, weakness, abilities and emotions. People with strong self awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest with themselves and with others. People who have a high degree of self awareness recognize how their feelings affect them, other people and their job performance. For instance, if you know that you are someone who can't handle pressure, you'll avoid doing things at the last minute. If you are aware that you are getting angry in a difficult situation, you'll control yourself and stop from reacting to the situation. If you know your strength is in people relations and not so much in numbers, you'll chose a career which will play to your strengths.
However, as Stephen Covey rightly points out self awareness is also about having some brutally honest conversations with yourself. It is about asking yourself the reasons why you really procrastinate; why you don't delegate; why you don't have a work life balance; what is the real emotion that is driving that anger?
Recognizing and defining one's own weakness can be at the minimum uncomfortable for many and very disturbing and scary for yet some. The most common belief is that the higher you go in the hierarchy, the less weakness you should have (or at least show). Add to that the cultural aspect of patriarchy and most men find it almost difficult to admit to having a weakness. Furthermore, accepting hard truths about oneself can also be quite difficult. It is easier to blame someone or something for the negative emotions rather than accepting responsibility for them.
But as Sir Francis Bacon says "Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est: Knowledge itself is power". When you are self aware, your connections with other people are truer and stronger. It gives you the power to respond to situations rather than have an uncontrolled reaction. So take that dive within yourself. Understand yourself better. Be Emotionally Intelligent!!
Every human has four endowments: self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagintaion. These give us the ultimate human freedom...the power to choose, to respond, to change... STEPHEN COVEY