What Makes A Leader? by Daniel Goleman in HBR
Rich Hua stashed this in Leadership
Self regulation, as a component of emotional intelligence.
Why does self-regulation matter so much for leaders? First of all, people who are in control of their feelings and impulses—that is, people who are reasonable—are able to create an environment of trust and fairness. In such an environment, politics and infighting are sharply reduced and productivity is high. Talented people flock to the organization and aren’t tempted to leave. And self-regulation has a trickle-down effect. No one wants to be known as a hothead when the boss is known for her calm approach. Fewer bad moods at the top mean fewer throughout the organization.
Second, self-regulation is important for competitive reasons. Everyone knows that business today is rife with ambiguity and change. Companies merge and break apart regularly. Technology transforms work at a dizzying pace. People who have mastered their emotions are able to roll with the changes. When a new program is announced, they don’t panic; instead, they are able to suspend judgment, seek out information, and listen to the executives as they explain the new program. As the initiative moves forward, these people are able to move with it.
Sometimes they even lead the way. Consider the case of a manager at a large manufacturing company. Like her colleagues, she had used a certain software program for five years. The program drove how she collected and reported data and how she thought about the company’s strategy. One day, senior executives announced that a new program was to be installed that would radically change how information was gathered and assessed within the organization. While many people in the company complained bitterly about how disruptive the change would be, the manager mulled over the reasons for the new program and was convinced of its potential to improve performance. She eagerly attended training sessions—some of her colleagues refused to do so—and was eventually promoted to run several divisions, in part because she used the new technology so effectively.
I want to push the importance of self-regulation to leadership even further and make the case that it enhances integrity, which is not only a personal virtue but also an organizational strength. Many of the bad things that happen in companies are a function of impulsive behavior. People rarely plan to exaggerate profits, pad expense accounts, dip into the till, or abuse power for selfish ends. Instead, an opportunity presents itself, and people with low impulse control just say yes.
Marcus Aurelius is my personal role model for the qualities of a good leader, and his insights are valued by many even today (e.g. Forbes). He was Emperor of the Roman Empire from 161-180 A.D. A true Stoic, he avoided the toxic court politics of Rome and spent much of his tenure personally leading military campaigns. Business Insider/Strategy contains a useful summary, "Marcus Aurelius' 10 Rules for Being an Exceptional Leader". He emphasized the virtues of deep human compassion, optimism, self control and a realistic acceptance of the influence we can have on mean spirited people. Although a dense read, I keep a copy of his great work, "Meditations", at my bedside which I open randomly when seeking guidance and inspiration.