When asked to define the ideal leader, many of us would highlight qualities such as intelligence, strength, determination, and vision – all the qualities typically associated with leadership.
Often forgotten, or completely left off the list, are softer, more personal skills, but they are also essential. Although a certain degree of analytical and technical skill is a minimum requirement for success, studies show that emotional intelligence may be the key attribute that distinguishes outstanding performers from those who are merely adequate.
Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman researched the subject and found that truly effective leaders are distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence.
Without emotional intelligence, someone can have first-class training, a razor-sharp mind, and an endless supply of good ideas, but he or she still won’t be a great leader.
The main characteristics of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill – may sound ‘unbusinesslike’, but various studies found direct ties between emotional intelligence and measurable business results.
While some of you might not agree with the above, I’m sure that once you’ve read the stories of our Top 35-under-35 winners and finalists, you’ll be convinced of the importance of emotional intelligence and realise why they are the cream of the crop. They are not merely successful leaders, all of them demonstrate emotional intelligence – and that is what set them apart and why their stories are so inspiring.
Leaders like this will always be able to steer their teams in the direction the organisation wants to go. Research at Harvard assessed leaders’ behaviours and their ability to influence others to work towards organisational goals. This is showed, among other things, in that by inspiring others you are able to drive change and will provoke a sense of desire rather than fear. And such leaders have the ability to challenge standard approaches and find ways to maneuver around old practices and policies. Those who excel in driving change will challenge even rules that seem carved in stone.
The stories of the Top 35 young CAs(SA) will give you hope, knowing that they are the future leaders of this country. But while they inspire and change the way business is done, it’s their courage that really strikes a cord. As Aristotle said: ‘You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.’
And every leader reading this, young or old, knows that every new process you implement, every new person you appoint, every new business idea you pursue, every new CA(SA) you train, every speech you deliver, every investment you make, requires courage.
May this issue inspire you and give you the courage to take chances and change lives.
Congratulations to all our Top 35-under-35 candidates – you are all winners and leaders.