Emotional Intelligence for School Leaders: Five Keys to Success

Published: 08th March 2011
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Emotional intelligence is probably more important than cognitive intelligence for success in life and leadership, especially school leadership. Schools are highly emotional places. The ability to lead in an emotionally intelligent way is critical to your success as a school leader. Executive coaching that includes emotional intelligence assessment is a powerful way to strengthen your school leadership skills.

Emotional Self-Awareness: I'm not talking about the touchy feely, but rather the ability to be keenly aware of one's own feelings and behaviors and their impact on others. As leaders, our emotions and behaviors have a tremendous impact on the people in our school communities, whether we like it or not. Frequently, leaders are quite oblivious to the impact. Assessing, understanding and taking action to improve emotional self-awareness is essential for school leaders to be at the top of their game.

Assertiveness: School leaders must constantly express and defend their feelings, beliefs and thoughts to colleagues, parents, students and other community members. Are you too assertive, not assertive enough or just right in your assertiveness? Do you know how people perceive your assertiveness? We often need to be assertive in leadership roles, and assertiveness is usually welcome by those around us. But sometimes we become overly assertive and create serious problems in our school communities. Finding the right balance in assertiveness can be tricky business.

Independence: Most leaders are self-directed and not dependent on others. In fact, many leaders are too independent and pursue their goals without respect to the implications for those around them. Too much of a good trait in the wrong place or time can be a problem. Leaders certainly need to be independent, self-directed and free of emotional dependency on others. At the same time, as leaders we need to know how our colleagues perceive us and moderate our behavior accordingly.

Self-Regard: Self-regard is about accepting and respecting ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses. High self-regard requires a deep understanding of self. As school leaders, we are constantly in the spotlight and must often summon up strength in areas where we feel weak. It's okay to project strength even when we feel weak. Sometimes we just have to fake it until we make it. The important part is that we truly understand and respect our strengths and weaknesses.

Self-Actualization: Some people are way too self-actualized. They are in cloud nine of self-actualization and out of touch with reality. The perfectly self-actualized person, who's apparently between cloud four and five, has the ability to set personal goals and achieve them in a way that realizes personal potential in their lives. So, as a school leader, please check your cloud habitation. Where are you in the process of self-actualization as a school leader? Are you actively engaged in setting and achieving personal goals? If not, it's time to get started.

The five areas of emotional intelligence discussed above are part of the EQ-i (Emotional Intelligence Inventory). The EQ-i is an excellent tool for assessing emotional intelligence and becoming a better leader.

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