TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we've found that the best bosses have a lot in common. In particular, 90% of them are skilled at managing their emotions in order to stay focused, calm, and productive.
These folks have high emotional intelligence (EQ), a skill set that's critical to achieving your dreams. It also happens to make them great to work for.
It's through a leader's actions — what he or she does and says on a daily basis — that the essence of great leadership becomes apparent. Behavior can change, and leaders who work to improve themselves get results.
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While I've run across numerous effective strategies that great bosses employ, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so.
1. They're composed
Great bosses are composed because they constantly monitor their emotions, they understand them, and they use this knowledge in the moment to react to challenging situations with self-control. When things go downhill, they are persistently calm and frustratingly content (frustrating to those who aren't, at least). They know that no matter how good or bad things get, everything changes with time. All they can do is adapt and adjust to stay happy and in control.
2. They're graceful
Graceful people are the perfect combination of strong and gentle. They don't resort to intimidation, anger, or manipulation to get a point across because their gentle, self-assured nature gets the job done. The word gentle often carries a negative connotation (especially in the workplace), but in reality, it's the gentleness of being graceful that gives ultra successful leaders their power. They're approachable, likeable, and easy to get along with—all qualities that make people highly amenable to their ideas.
3. They're knowledgeable
Great bosses know more than others do because they're constantly working to increase their self-awareness. They vow constant growth. Whenever they have a spare moment, they fill it with self-education. They don't do this because it's "the right thing to do"; they do it because it's their passion. They're always looking for opportunities to improve and new things to learn about themselves and the world around them. Instead of succumbing to their fear of looking stupid, truly exceptional people just ask the questions on their mind, because they would rather learn something new than appear smart.
4. They're honest
Great bosses trust that honesty and integrity, though painful at times, always work out for the best in the long run. They know that honesty allows for genuine connections with people in a way that dishonesty can't and that lying always comes back to bite you in the end. In fact, a Notre Dame study showed that people who often lied experienced more mental health problems than their more honest counterparts.
5. They're deliberate
Great bosses reach decisions by thinking things out, seeking advice from others, and sleeping on it. They know that (as studies show) impulsively relying too much on gut-instinct is ineffective and misleading. Being able to slow down and logically think things through makes all the difference.
6. They speak with certainty
It's rare to hear great bosses utter things like "Um," "I'm not sure," and "I think." Successful leaders speak assertively because they know that it's difficult to get people to listen to you if you can't deliver your ideas with conviction.
7. They use positive body language
Becoming cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they're positive) draws people to you like ants to a picnic. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the person who's speaking are all forms of positive body language that super successful people use to draw others in. Positive body language makes all the difference in a conversation because how you say something can be more important than what you say.
8. They're confident
Successful leaders like to challenge themselves and compete, even when their efforts yield only small victories. Small victories build new androgen receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for reward and motivation. The increase in androgen receptors increases the influence of testosterone, which further increases their confidence and eagerness to tackle future challenges. When you achieve a series of small victories, the boost in your confidence can last for months.
9. They're fearless
Fear is nothing more than a lingering emotion that's fueled by your imagination. Danger is real. It's the uncomfortable rush of adrenaline you get when you almost step in front of a bus. Fear is a choice. Exceptional leaders know this better than anyone does, so they flip fear on its head. Instead of letting fear take over, they are addicted to the euphoric feeling they get from conquering their fears.
10. They're grateful
Ultra successful leaders know that it took a lot of ambition, passion, and hard work to get where they are in life. They also know that their mentors, colleagues, families, and friends all played a huge role in their success. Instead of basking in the glory of achievement, these leaders recognize others for the wonderful things they've done for them.
Bringing it all together
These habits can make any of us more successful if we use them every day. Give them a try and see where they take you.