March 29, 2015 Jo Simpson

The three traits of successful leaders

Susie Little of Tower House Horses explains what it takes to be a successful leader.

Just one in four HR professionals is confident in the abilities of their leaders, while just 15% of businesses are confident they have a reliable source of leaders to promote within the business, according to research from Forbes. These findings highlight the huge difficulties that businesses have finding and nurturing strong leaders.

There are three main traits that define a leader:

  • Emotional intelligence – good leaders must bring more to their role than technical expertise and cognitive functioning. Daniel Goleman’s analysis of competency models in 188 companies revealed that, when comparing star performers with average leaders, 90% of the difference is attributable to emotional intelligence factors (self-regulation, empathy, motivation, social skills) than to cognitive ability.
  • Authentic communication – leading with the heart, not just the mind. Authentic leaders are self-aware, able to connect with others, not afraid to show their emotions and vulnerability. They are leaders who will be perceived as trustworthy because their communication is genuine.
  • Ability to adapt to the moment – open to ideas and willing to change. These leaders work with what is, not what might have been, focusing on the best possible outcome for any given situation.

The good news for businesses is that these traits can be identified and nurtured throughout the organisation, with enlightened and well-executed training and development programmes. Using equine guided leadership development as an intervention within the overall programme can have a powerful impact on performance. Working with horses builds self-awareness – the corner stone of emotional intelligence – and the all-important confidence which, according to Forbes research, is lacking in so many businesses.

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