Leadership – the dance of EQ & IQ 

According to Abraham Zaleznik the traditional view of management focused on building competence, control, and the balance of power. It omitted the essential leadership elements of inspiration, vision, and passion—which drive corporate success. With the evolution of leadership, he argued, that business leaders have more in common with artists, sports persons, scientists, and other creative thinkers.

 1. Leadership requires both EQ & IQ. 

I agree with Zaleznik in that business leaders, require creativity as well. Like creative thinkers lean into their passion & vision to continue to hone their skills. IQ is developed by upskilling and doing better at what we are good at. But in leadership EQ goes hand in hand and every effort should be made to develop that as well.

Quite a few of you might be cricket fans and who doesn’t love MS Dhoni. As a sports person, he is regarded as one of India’s most successful captains and the successes of the team are attributed to his leadership. He hails from a modest background and followed his passion of becoming a cricketer. His versatility as a cricketer continues to shine through his career, which comes from practice and training (upskilling). But apart from his skill, his qualities as a leader contribute largely to his success as well. That is where his EQ comes into play.

2.  Lean into your strengths to get the boost to succeed as a Leader.

Very often, I find younger people believing that they are not leader material. It could be because they are not aggressive or fierce or go-getters. I believe there is no one recipe for a leader, we all find out own styles. As you explore yours, remember to lean into your strengths. These are the qualities that come to you naturally, leaning into them gives you quick wins.

 Going back to Dhoni, his attitude of not losing his grounded-ness even after reaching the top attests to his humility. And he was not called “Captain Cool” for anything, staying calm is another strength that he leans into.

Another leader who comes to mind whose key effectiveness as a leader is her authenticity, is Jacinda Arden. The fact that she has been re-elected for her second term attest to her popularity. Her calm approach in times of pressure and decisiveness has led some to call her the most effective national leader in the world. Arden has skillfully dealt with a volcanic eruption, shootings and the covid-19 pandemic while serving as Prime Minister.

Despite some criticism for it, she leads with warmth, kindness and is driven by empathy. She chooses her strengths, making her a great role-model.

I have myself often struggled with being told that I’m soft and I grew up believing I wouldn’t make a good leader. But my coach told me otherwise. She told me to rely on my strengths, leading with warmth and responsibility, but to continue to develop other leadership skills to be more well-rounded.

3. As we continue to upskill, it is essential we continue to build on our repertoire of strengths

Our inherent strengths come to us more easily than others. Leaning into them sets us off with a confidence stance. But as leaders, it is important that we chose to evolve consciously into the kind of leader we aspire to be. I continued to be warm and responsible but learnt to be assertive, decisive and goal focused, I chose to do those with kindness. That was the leadership style I chose.

As Dhoni leaned into his strengths he continued to hone his leadership style as well. He chose to earn respect instead of commanding it. And the confidence that he created among his team members helped them deliver their best, empowering them to take responsibility to perform well.

Very often people are thrown into leadership roles without being coached, but as leadership styles evolve and ways of doing business change, organizations and individuals should intentionally build and continue to develop leadership, allowing uniqueness while honing strengths.

4. Effective leadership requires passion & intention.

As leaders, we are in a position to inspire others to do more and become more, which requires us to set an example, be a role model. If you think of inspirational leaders, you will find that they are passionate about a cause or about people or a product. Whether it is Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk,  passion for their cause stands out. So, find your passion and follow it intentionally.

So, if you are a new leader, or are looking to grow into a leadership role or someone who has been a leader but not made conscious choices to decide your path  – remember, that with great power comes great responsibility. Passion, inspiration, and power may seem like big words, but passion is about finding what you love to do. And inspiration doesn’t require perfection, you can inspire by how you deal with your imperfections. And power isn’t about control, but about strength. Strength to inspire others to become leaders.