The One Skill that C-Level Executives Must Have to Succeed

For those interested in leadership performance, the concept of emotional intelligence has served as an anchor, a foundational guide to better understand differential leadership abilities, for the past 20 years. A recent Forbes article summarized emotional intelligence as, “[The] ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results…your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.”

Sounds super scientific, right?

Well, no. At its core, emotional intelligence is a more fanciful and formulaic way of getting at interpersonal skills.

The attribution of high emotional intelligence to manager-types makes sense – we know that communication becomes increasingly important as an individual ascends in his/her field, moving from project to program to portfolio management. Think about it: as my responsibilities become less technical and more organizational, my ability to communicate effectively with my team(s), suppliers, buyers, etc. to manage for a desired collective outcome, likewise becomes more important.

For C-level executives, the need to understand and prioritize effective communication has become mission critical. With a 24-hour news cycle, social media and a constantly churning digital buzz, having executive buy-in on ensuring any organization is effectively participating in the conversation can be a make or break characteristic.

What we know about human behavior is that people behave in ways that make sense to them – not to you. Even if you believe that you have conveyed the facts of any situation, you may find yourself unable to move a project, or entire divisions forward. Why? Because people make sense of the same message in different ways – all people, both internal and external to your organization.

To move any company or project forward, C-level leaders need to understand that critical fact and ensure that they have the right bench and advisors helping to communicate their vision and mission in ways that matter to each key stakeholder audience.

It all comes down to building a relationships and buy-in from audiences they need to move the company forward.