People often analyze the history of accomplishments and development of extraordinary leaders in search of a single secret characteristic, skill or trait that leads to success. The reality, however, is that success is usually not achieved by a single factor but a combination of behaviors, skills and applied strategies. The question is not, what is the most important characteristic, skill or trait but, what are the leading contributing factors most common among extraordinary leaders?
While success cannot ever be guaranteed, there are a combination of strategies that leaders can implement to increase their probability of success. This leadership success formula includes the following three components.
The tactical strategy is simple, yet often overlooked, and includes the basic goals and objectives necessary to fulfill the leader’s mission. There are three basic questions that every leader should be able to answer: Where are we going, how do we get there and what does success look like? These core questions establish the foundation for the leader’s tactical strategy.
Developing a strong tactical strategy defines cores objectives and connects the leader and team’s efforts to a purpose. The absence of a clear tactical strategy leaves teams questioning priorities, exposes inefficiencies and decreases motivation. The tactical strategy is a leader’s blueprint for action.
Emotional Intelligence Strategy
Leaders’ success is dependent upon their ability to effectively communicate, influence and maintain healthy relationships. Strong, healthy connections between leaders and team members develop as result of emotional intelligence (EI). Based on Daniel Goleman’s model, EI is defined as a combination of emotional self-awareness, social awareness, self-regulation and relationship management. Emotional self-awareness is a person’s ability to identify his or her current emotional state in the moment while recognizing the root of the emotions. Social awareness is the ability to detect and identify the emotions of others. Self-regulation is a person’s ability to regulate his or her behavior regardless of the circumstances. It includes impulse control, flexibility, resilience, optimism and attitude. Relationship management is the ability to navigate the emotions of others and influence their behavior to generate a constructive response regardless of the presence of adversity.
EI is dependent on a person’s ability to execute well in all four of these components, and each component works in conjunction with the other components. For example, a leader proficient in EI is able to identify when someone else’s emotions are escalating and then respond with precision to de-escalate those emotions and influence the other person to respond constructively. Alternatively, a leader with excellent self-awareness provides little benefit to a situation if that person is unable to appropriately regulate his or her own behavior. The emotional intelligence strategy is the leader’s approach to achieve resilience and flexibility and to overcome adversity.
The brain is a leader’s primary tool used for decision-making. It may sound like common sense, but the condition and health of leaders’ brains are often overlooked. Many leaders ignore the needs of their brains and assume that their mental performance is consistent. This assumption is wrong; the brain’s performance improves and decreases based on how well we takes care of it.
The brain’s ability or inability to perform well affects our mood, memory, tolerance for stress, emotional control, perseverance and cognitive processing. In addition, multiple poor brain habits may compound and demonstrate an even greater impediment to performance. For example, sleeping less than seven hours each night can hinder brain performance relative to mood, memory and emotional control. However, a person who sleeps less than seven hours each night, maintains poor nutritional habits and fails to exercise regularly will experience even greater challenges.
As brain health decreases, so does brain reserve, which is the ability to manage stress, maintain constructive optimism and demonstrate resilience. A lack of brain reserve increases a leader’s propensity for moodiness; causes fatigue; and reduces memory, emotional and social awareness, impulse control, and much more. Leadership requires complex thought-processing and self-regulation, both of which are more likely and more easily achieved by a healthy brain. This third leadership strategy is the leader’s brain health maintenance plan to achieve optimal cognitive performance.
Extraordinary leadership is multidimensional and requires multiple skills, traits, positive behaviors and strategies to achieve optimal success. Leaders who master all three of the leadership success formula strategies (tactical, emotional intelligence and brain) enhance their probability of leadership success. The path of leadership is a journey, and the evolution and growth of a leader on that journey corresponds with his or her ability to develop and maintain the leadership success formula.
Want to learn more about the leadership success formula? Come to TICE in June, and attend Ben’s session.