Last week I attended a talk about leadership at my son’s school. The speaker explained leadership by showing us first what it isn’t supposed to be.

Based on his research and experience as a life coach, he described an effective and inspirational leader as a person able to lead through the construction and the strengthening of authentic relationships that will allow him/her to practice a powerful and significant accompaniment to achieve mutual development and accomplish extraordinary and sustainable results.

We grew up believing that a leader is a person who is above others, unreachable, different, superior, and higher in status, which surprisingly coincides with what we can find on the internet, and most books in the market about leadership.

Leadership is a very hot topic these days, but in order for it to be credible, it must be authentic, it can’t be learned by reading books or attending conferences or courses, it has to be part of a person’s beliefs.  Leadership is personal and it is accomplished through a joint effort between the leader – who acts as a mentor – accompanying and learning at the same time from the mentee.

As a mom, I am very interested in being that mentor for my son, but in order to achieve that, I have to learn more about myself and become my best version.

In the last two years, I have been researching, studying, and constructing my own interpretation of relationship topics and psychological theories, in order to understand many things about my past and my experience with love and relationships, with the purpose of getting to know myself more, be more genuine, and ultimately reach a better version of myself.

Based on the speaker’s talk, an effective leader should be able to show two key attributes:  Results and Relationships.

It is clear that a leader should always be able to show results, but why are relationships equally important?  How do we maintain stable and healthy interpersonal relationships in order to become good leaders?

People with high emotional intelligence are able to understand their own psyche, are competent at managing stress and are less likely to suffer from depression.  They also find it easier to form and maintain interpersonal relationships.

The term Emotional Intelligence (EI) was made popular in 1995 by internationally known psychologist Daniel Goleman who wrote a book of the same name.

EI is the measure of an individual’s ability to recognize and manage emotions, and the emotions of others, distinguish between different feelings and flag them appropriately, and manage emotions to adapt to different conditions.

Humans are highly emotional creatures, but not everyone is emotionally intelligent.  EI is about being able to control our feelings and emotions.

Justin Bariso, the author of the book EQ Applied, describes how EI looks like on quotidian life in 13 different scenarios.

  1. Feelings:  EI recognizes emotions and is all about self and social awareness, which can be reached by asking yourself questions such as: What are my emotional strengths/weaknesses? Does my mood affect my decision-making?
  2. Pause:  Think before you speak or act to refrain from making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.
  3. Be in control of your thoughts:  By striving to control your thoughts, you can control your reactions to certain emotions.
  4. Benefit from criticism:  Learn how to use negative feedback to your advantage.
  5. Be authentic:  Say what you mean and mean what you say by sticking to your values and principles.
  6. Be empathetic:  Empathy helps you connect with and understand others, which is pretty helpful when building deeper relationships.
  7. Praise others:  Focusing on the good in others, inspires them to be the best version of themselves.
  8. Provide helpful feedback:  Use criticism wisely so that it is helpful and not harmful.
  9. Apologize:  Saying I am sorry demonstrates humility and that you value your relationship more than your ego.
  10. Forgive and forget:  Clinging on to resentment does not allow you to heal.  Forgiving and forgetting allows you to set your emotions free and be able to move forward.
  11. Keep your commitments:  Make a habit of keeping your word to develop a reputation for reliability, responsibility, and trustworthiness.
  12. Help others:  Taking time to listen and help others in an effort to build trust.
  13. Protect yourself from emotional sabotage:  EI also has a dark, negative side, but a sharp EI will be your shield.

EI plays a very important role in sustaining healthy and deep relationships, which can significantly impact effective leadership.

It is not that easy to be a master of emotional intelligence.  I handled the breakup with «Mr. Right Then» like a diva of EI, but I definitely need to work on some items in order to sharpen my emotional quotient.

I find it very easy to lose my temper and say things I don’t mean sometimes, especially around my parents.

I have to work on that for sure.

I loved last week’s talk.  Not only was it very interesting and engaging, but also the spin the speaker gave to the topic was very thought-provoking.

In my post An Ideal Love Sculpture, I mentioned how by believing that our partners are the best versions of themselves, we may «sculpt» them to become those ideal selves.

If I want to be that ideal, inspirational and effective mentor for my four-year-old son, I have to first sculpt myself and, in the interim, accompany him in the best way I can, while I learn rewarding lessons from him.

I think I have my work cut out.