Leading can be a demanding and difficult job. Therefore, leaders who are successful are often looked up to and praised. If you think of a couple famous people, it is likely that a leader of some sort came to mind. Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler, perhaps Angela Merkel or Michelle Obama are some good examples. Leaders do not have to be good people, but that does not take away the fact that they are leaders. There is not cookie cutter mold on how to be a good leader but they are often, charismatic, good speakers, smart, and inspiring.
However, when it comes to being a technical manager, it seems one of the most sought after skills is emotional intelligence (EQ). This is being able to handle your emotions well and is a bit different from IQ. A lot of the time IQ is thrown around as if it is the end all test for a persons intelligence. While having a high IQ can help a person, it has been found that high EQ is more valuable in being successful in the workplace.
In the book, this is referred to as emotional flexibility. Some of the key points include, being able to take criticism, resist succumbing to others negative emotions, staying calm, and being careful of what you say. All these things are great to have if you are looking to be a leader. It is okay to have a high IQ, but having high EQ is where people really shine in leadership roles. It is sort of like being book smart and socially smart. I have touched on it a little bit in a previous blog, how the best technical people are not necessarily the best managers. Having the highest IQ might not make you the best leader. If someone can name every single part to a computer and all the facts for each piece, but can barely stumble through a conversation with a person, for example a client, then they are most likely not the best fit for a leadership position.
Now, back to EQ. If you are super awkward, a terrible public speaker, cries in front of attractive girls, whatever it may be, there are ways to improve emotional intelligence and become more socially adept. Some thing to try would include, practicing self-awareness, name your emotions, recognize your emotions but do not stifle them, and try to see patterns. The first step is to be self-aware. If you are not aware of what is going on then there is no helping you. You have to be able to realize when your emotions are getting the better of you, or when you are making someone else feel uncomfortable. Naming emotions is also important. Taking a second to recognize that you are feeling angry, or sad can be beneficial. Then after you have done this, it is good to let those feelings happen. Not always, at work sometimes it is better to hide them and power through, but hiding all emotions forever will do you no good. Lastly, finding patterns in your emotions and other people will help you handle similar situations in the future.
Being smart is good and it can get you places and jobs, but being emotionally intelligent AND smart will get you a lot farther. Leadership is more than having the technical abilities. Since it is so much built on working with other people social skills are necessary. When working with Geeks, or people that do not always have the best social skills, having the brains and the emotional capacity to communicate well is a deadly combo.