Thirty years ago, a leader or manager might have walked into a room, clipboard and hard hat ready. This person, likely a male, would have outlined the tasks for the day, without much regard for the emotions that may have been present. In today’s Imagination Age, this type of leadership is obsolete. Leaders must be open, transparent, and know themselves to effectively manage and inspire others.

When You Walk Into A Room, Are You More Than Just Physically There?

During my recent interview for the Make Me A Leader film, with Executive Director Helen Lyons, we discussed the evolution of leadership, and how we have seen the change from IQ to EQ to the importance of relationships. Current generations have different expectations than employees of the past, and people want to have their minds and hearts engaged in what they do.

Ms. Lyons pointed out that leaders who aren’t self-aware can be a recipe for disaster. These types of leaders expect command and control and may only be task-oriented. However, this kind of attitude leaves out the most essential component of any business—the people. While most leaders may be excellent operational managers, many would benefit from taking a step back and examining if they can say they really ‘know themselves.

What Does The Shift From Iq To Eq To Relationships Mean For Leaders?

Younger kids usually know what IQ is, even if they don’t know what the letters stand for. IQ means intelligence quotient, and science has devised numerous ways to measure this in humans. The meaning has actually evolved over time, and we now understand that there are multiple intelligences, some of which may not be measured on conventional IQ tests.

One of the alternative intelligences, which is measured by emotional quotient, or EQ, perhaps gives a clearer picture of how successful a person might be in his or her life. For leaders, IQ and EQ can play a role in how well a particular person leads. But think back to the best leaders you have ever known or worked for. What do you remember about their leadership abilities?

Making The Jump From ‘fake It Till You Make It’ To Extraordinary Leadership

The best leaders probably had a blend of many characteristics. They were likely intelligent and organised, presenting themselves in a professional light. But these stand-out leaders were also likely charismatic, kind, and compassionate. We don’t innately follow people who don’t inspire us, and money is only going to provide inspiration for so long. The leaders that made you want to BE more were leaders who understood themselves and practiced holistic leadership styles.

My practice as a leader is to ensure that I’m totally present, to ensure that if I’m going into a tense, emotional situation that I walk in with an open heart and an open head.

Helen Lyons

How can you be a more compassionate, inspiring leader? How can you evolve to meet the needs of today’s business demands? You don’t have to make sweeping changes to adjust your leadership set to fit with the current generation of employees. Try to incorporate some of these tips into your daily routine, and hopefully, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the reactions of those around you.

  1. Be present. If you are going to a meeting, stop mentally composing a memo or an email. Stop worrying about your child at practice. Take a second to breathe and center yourself. Don’t just drag your body into a meeting; bring your brain as well!
  2. Don’t judge. Go into situations with an open mind. Sure, you may have done research and reading, and you may unconsciously form an opinion ahead of time. But try not to let these automatic responses tilt your brain before you’ve heard the entire situation.
  3. Listen to others. Listening to others involves more than simply hearing what they say. Body language, tone, and the emotions charging a room are all part of listening. Don’t miss half of the conversation because you aren’t paying attention to the cues other people are giving.
  4. Grow and keep learning. When you think you are on top of your game, and everything is peachy, you’re actually probably in trouble. Leaders have to continually adjust and grow. Your brain needs exercise, and learning keeps your mind nimble and agile.
  5. Know thyself. You need to examine your core values and beliefs and decide if your leadership style reflects what you believe in. Getting feedback from those around you is a great way to calibrate and reset yourself when you get off course. If you are self-aware, people around you will sense that, and this attitude is infectious (in a good way)!

Evolve Your View Of Leadership

Instead of thinking of leadership as a linear, task-driven process, try to think of leadership as circular. People don’t usually leave the company, they leave a bad leader behind.

The more impact you have, and the greater your role, the greater the focus should be on strategy and building relationships with the people around you, including your employees, clients, shareholders, and even people in your personal life. If others feel like they can talk to you, they will feel more comfortable working with you.

Surinder, S. (2012). Leadership Quotient: The Science of Leadership. Diversity MBA Magazine. Article retrieved from

Originally posted on: 14 August 2018
Last updated on: 25 February 2024

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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