What Makes a Great Leader?

Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. —Chinese Proverb

Imagine a world where we couldn’t perceive when a co-worker is frustrated or a friend is upset. Because of emotional intelligence (EQ), we can connect with people beyond the superficial and create rewarding interactions at work and beyond.

Research shows that EQ is a differentiator between great leaders and average ones. Author, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman studied executives at nearly 200 companies and found EQ to be twice as relevant to performance in comparison with both IQ and technical ability. At top levels, EQ accounted for a 90-percent difference between the best and the rest.

Harvard Business Review, in a video titled “What Makes a Great Leader?,” shares the five interconnected components of EQ, as defined by Goleman, and the ways in which these qualities define good leadership:

1. self-awareness: understanding ones own emotions and their affect on others.
2. self-regulation: the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses.
3. motivation: passion to work with energy and persistence for reasons beyond money or status.
4. empathy: ability to understand the emotional needs of others and treat them […]

Practicing Empathy

Empathy is innate. Scientists have documented that empathy is common in children—even rats—but not all of us continue to be as empathetic as we grow older.

Why not? Maybe it’s because we simply forget how. But fear not: Compassion is a skill—and we can strengthen it like a muscle.
Spending a few minutes each day to cultivate compassion pays off. One popular method to boost empathy is to simply close your eyes and picture the people in your life who have been especially kind to you. When picturing each person, wish him or her well silently with such thoughts as, “May she [or he] be safe, happy, healthy and live joyously.”

After wishing good thoughts upon these special people, why not widen the scope? Daniel Goleman—author, psychologist and science journalist—recently wrote in the Washington Post that while “walking 50 blocks through the human thickets of mid-town Manhattan,” he wished thoughts of “loving kindness” upon strangers as they passed and reported that he found himself smiling broadly by the end of the walk.

As with any exercise, the more you do it the stronger you get.
To your health and success,

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How do we develop our sense of empathy? It turns out our brain has done the heavy lifting for us.

A group of Italian scientists were recording the neural activity of a monkey when they stumbled upon an interesting discovery. They found that some neurons fired every time the monkey picked up a piece of food. Occasionally, researchers had to pick up food to give to the monkey. When they did, they were surprised to find those same neurons fired in the monkey’s brain. Further investigation revealed that some brain cells fire both when the animal is performing an activity and also when it […]

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