What no one tells you when you become a leader.

Leadership | February 16, 2021

“Rachel, I wish when I was promoted to this role that someone had pulled me aside and told me.”

Although the tech executive before me presented as a bit of a curmudgeon, he had quickly become a favorite client. His superficially gruff exterior masked a thoughtful, sensitive human at heart. 

“I wish someone had told me what this position really required. Literally, as part of the onboarding.” 

What no one tells you is that the technical skills that catapulted you to VP, or Founder, or the C-suite, aren’t the ones you need to succeed at this level. There is an unspoken job description with a list of required skills.

So what are these magical skills? Are gifted leaders born with them? 

Nope. What distinguishes the best leaders is their mastery of the “inner game”: their emotional intelligence, or EQ.

Because at this level, relationships are the currency of influence. 

So, mastering our inner game and understanding what makes us and the people around us tick—our unconscious, “behind-the-scenes” thought patterns; the drivers of behavior—are critical to our success as a leader.

When we shift these patterns from unconscious to conscious, becoming aware of our own drivers, we can recognize the patterns and drivers of the people around us. This is emotional intelligence

EQ is a learnable skill that, with practice, allows you to become the intuitive leader you aspire to be: highly respected, sought after, and influential—with so much less effort.  

Emotional intelligence distinguishes the best leaders from the rest of the pack. EQ is the “leg up” that can leapfrog you ahead of other leaders. 

Leading in this way, from the inside out, allows you to reach greater and greater levels of responsibility, influence, and impact, without resorting to superficial tactics and strategies.

In the often gray areas of the tech organizations, cultivating a clear and unshakable sense of who you are and what you stand for as a leader is your only clear compass. 

This requires knowing ourselves, inside and out. And the only way we CAN know ourselves, be true and authentic to ourselves, is by cultivating our emotional intelligence.

Think of it this way: if you work from the outside in, learning and applying behavioral or communication tricks or ‘hacks’, so to speak, you only ever solve the problem at hand, on a superficial level. There will always be a nuance or novelty that knocks you off course.

Until we become fully aware of the true causes of the issues, conflicts, or challenges we face, those roadblocks will continue to pop up time and again.

The first, critical step is to become aware of the patterns driving your actions and decisions (or lack thereof). The next step is to master them.

Mind you, we ALL have these patterns. The best leaders learn what theirs are, allowing them to learn how to read others’.

This is exactly what happened with our thoughtful “curmudgeon.” He became aware of his patterns and fully grasped how important emotional intelligence is to his role. 

He started paying attention to his relationships as a way to meet deliverables. 

As a result, now he is spoken highly of when he’s not in the room. Now he is sought after for his opinion on high profile projects.

Awareness is crucial in taking actions from an informed perspective rather than from knee-jerk responses due to unconscious patterns.

Emotional intelligence is a skill that you can develop slowly over time through experience and the “School of Hard Knocks.” Or, you can learn more quickly with the right expert’s guidance.

Become the leader you’ve always wanted to be, without giving up who you are. It requires doing the inner work—which is where we start, at MettaWorks. Click here to schedule a complimentary call with one of our coaches. 

Rachel Rider
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant