There is good news. We can ALL become high-impact leaders. The key is in emotional intelligence and intentional leadership development.
The data does not lie. High emotional Intelligence (EQ) is strongly correlated with personal and professional success. But management and leadership are often considered "soft skills" and many people erroneously believe that great leaders are simply born that way.
EQ and Leadership are all about dealing with people, problem solving, and managing change and stress.
That pretty well sums up both work and life, no? So how can you begin the journey to high-impact leadership?
Step 1 - Objectivity.
The ability to objectively assess the present and connect it to the future is essential to high-impact leadership. Objectivity means facing things and seeing them for what they are.
Step 2 - Self Awareness.
Being objective with ourselves is HARD. It means facing and acknowledging our thinking patterns, our habits, our limiting beliefs. And after that hard work is over, then we can make a decision to change the ones that are holding us back.
I avoided this work for a long time and, as a result, I kept coming back to the same places. I was stuck, and unable to grow or make progress toward my goals.
Full disclosure – Looking back, I wasn’t even sure what my goals were. I’d been on autopilot, chasing instead what people told me I ‘ought to do’.
It wasn't until I took the time to really pause and focus objectively that I realized how limited my perspective had been, and how that (and other things) held me back.
There is tremendous power in the pause. As Viktor Frankl said, "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
I came to the conclusion that I was totally unclear on my goals, and that my current habits and patterns of behavior and thinking were not going to fix that. Once you start to cut through all of the rationalizations things start to get clear pretty quickly!
That was the turning point. I faced up to objective reality and that presented me with a choice. Stay where you are, or change.
I decided to make a change. That is when the real work began. The payoff is not instant but, from my own experience, the pain of leaving your comfort zone is far more tolerable than the pain of stagnation and regret.
The truth is, you have the power to make any goal a reality.
The Pause is what allows us to understand the BEST way to move forward in a given situation. When we skip over the pause, we allow our old patterns and biases to take the wheel. The same inputs are NOT going to generate new outcomes.
Now, the Pause is a powerful tool, but also an unforgiving one at first. You have to be willing to stay objective and honest with yourself. That is the only way we gain perspective. That is how self-awareness grows. That is what makes change possible and why these skills are essential to high-impact leadership.
One caveat to be aware of: As you begin to incorporate the pause and try out new behaviors, there will be feedback from the world.
Some feedback will be positive and keep you going. Other feedback will test your commitment. Some people will try to slow or stop your growth! Stay the course! Do not let others discourage you. Instead, use that feedback to further refine your strategy and accelerate progress toward your goals.
About the Author:
Matt Beckmann is the Founder & Managing Director of Ascent Consultants. In addition to experience as a former Chief of Staff to the Missouri Auditor and as a Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, he has advanced training and certifications in law, business, coaching, athletics, and other disciplines. His blog content, inspired by his deep passion for unlocking his reader's best potential, consistently equips business owners and individuals with the knowledge and resources to overcome obstacles that may be hindering growth.
Ascent Consultants provides business and project management consulting services, and executive and leadership development coaching. By converting client growth goals into an actionable "game plan," we lead companies and individuals to extraordinary outcomes.