Know the Difference Between Being Smart and Being Effective

know the difference between being smart and being effectiveWhile intellectual horsepower is a true “gift” to any business, it’s by no means a guarantee for success. In fact, many intelligent people find their careers derailed because although they’re smart as a whip, they lack the emotional smarts or the ability to control their feelings and manage relationships. To become a truly effective leader, you’ve got to understand the value of keeping your cool, fine-tuning your people skills, and always working to improve these leadership traits. After all, emotional intelligence is a core leadership trait, and, cultivated with your care, it’s one that eventually becomes a “gift” you give yourself.

In my career, I’ve seen a lot of smart people fail in business. Although they possessed keen intellect and were capable of generating brilliant ideas, these managers couldn’t manage their emotions and people properly. How could this possibly happen with such “smart” people? Quite easily, it turned out, and usually it was because they naively couldn’t see that they didn’t have these core leadership skills, and no one bothered or cared enough to point it out. Other times, it was because their egos (ultimately, fear) prevented them from wanting to change and improve upon this clear shortcoming. The consequences were that their co-workers were confused, undervalued, upset or, worse, utterly distrustful of them as a person.

As a leader yourself, it’s vital to understand that this leadership problem is common yet totally preventable. Today’s best leaders know they don’t own all the secrets for success, so they purposefully become effective by empowering their people to create and own solutions. It’s then the entire staff of employees, as opposed to the leader, who collectively become the “brains” behind all the brilliance.

Think your emotional intelligence needs help?

Here are some specific tips for improvement:

  • Work on your relationships, with the goal of making them stronger.
  • Try to understand more about the people who are around you, becoming more aware of both team and individual dynamics.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Listen more, lecture less.
  • Value opinions.
  • Manage up without coming across as political or self-interested.
  • Maneuver through the politics — learn the unwritten rules without becoming “political.”
  • Control what you can, try your best to let go of what you can’t.
  • Practice self-control, e.g., think before you speak.
  • Pick your battles.
  • Pursue ongoing educational/professional opportunities and resources (conference seminars, books, blogs, classes, etc.) that address the subject or specific aspects of emotional intelligence.
  • Be careful of when and how you use anger.

How else have you developed your emotional intelligence?


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