Leaders Worth Following: Emotional Intelligence Key to Presidential Leadership

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In times of challenge and change, some leaders stand out - one of the key differentiators is emotional intelligence. As people become increasingly stressed, their 'natural' inclination is to protect themselves and focus on survival. But great leaders are able to calm that anxiety and enroll people in a larger vision - a task that will be critical for whomever becomes the next US President.

if we're smart with our feelings, they'll focus and motivate us to take care of ourselves and each other. In times like these we need leaders who are masterful at understanding, connecting with, and truly leading people. Yes, good leadership is about having a clear vision and smart ideas -- and it's also about heart.

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In the current economic and political climate it's no surprise that people are stressed. They are increasingly worried about basic survival -- which leaves less and less bandwidth for solving the significant challenges we face as a nation and a world. So in these times of challenge and change, what do people want from their president?

As Americans go to the polls next week, they need not just their analytical skills in play: they need emotional intelligence to make the best possible decisions. And in the last few days of the campaign, we will also have an opportunity to see how the candidates and their campaigns use their emotional intelligence to thrive or sink amidst increasing pressure and challenge.

Emotional intelligence expert Joshua Freedman, author of At the Heart of Leadership, writes about the role of emotions in helping leaders stand out. In his most recent article, "Leaders Worth Following," Freedman says that true leaders "engender key reactions, including trust, commitment, and a passion for excellence. They help people feel both safe and 'on fire' - perhaps it's only from a foundation of real safety that people can take the extraordinary risks to excel?" The article is online at http://www.6seconds.org/lwf.

Freedman says it's not just what these leaders do that make the difference: "What's critical though, is that the behaviors alone are not enough. There is a 'secret sauce' or 'x-factor' that sets these people apart, and that's the WAY they do what they do. Based in genuine care, they take these actions authentically, naturally, and consistently. Not only do they walk their talk, they also talk their walk."

If voters tap into their emotional intelligence, Freedman says they will be able to make the best possible decision next week. "Emotions can be a source of wisdom and positive energy," he says, "if we're smart with our feelings, they'll focus and motivate us to take care of ourselves and each other. In times like these we need leaders who are masterful at understanding, connecting with, and truly leading people. Yes, good leadership is about having a clear vision and smart ideas -- and it's also about heart."

On of a handful of experts with proven experience applying emotional intelligence to improve performance, Freedman is COO at Six Seconds - The Emotional Intelligence Network. Six Seconds is a global nonprofit organization supporting the development of emotional intelligence. With offices in six countries and practitioners in over 50, Six Seconds is the premier resource for emotional intelligence consulting, assessment, and development.

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