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Good leaders tend to share three key qualities: competence, emotional quotient and adaptability.

That’s according to business consultant John Spence, who outlined those attributes in a TEDx talk called “The Leader of the Future” in 2019.

A good leader doesn’t have to be a genius, he or she just needs to be competent — both at their jobs and the leadership aspects of their role. 

Your ability to gain new skills is not limited, so it is up to you to be a lifelong learner. How? Take advantage of the limitless access to information online. Read leadership books. Attend training. Work with a leadership mentor you admire.

Even more important than competency is the emotional quotient, or EQ, according to Spence.

Your emotional quotient is your ability to listen, relate, connect and empathize with your employees. Think of it as emotional intelligence. 

Empathy is a key leadership skill because you cannot lead a team without understanding the people on it. Your ability to build genuine connections with every member of your team will determine the quality of your leadership. 

No one wants to work for someone who is hard to get along with. 

Leadership is less about telling people what to do and more about asking what you can do for them. Knowing how to serve your employees with kindness requires a great deal of emotional intelligence.

Your EQ is not fixed, but improving it is not as simple or straightforward as reading more books or taking online courses. 

For some people, improving emotional intelligence might involve therapy or working with an expert to become better at empathizing with their employees.

For others, it could be a matter of gaining self-awareness through check-ins and journaling. The ability to reflect on constructive feedback and the interactions you have with your employees will help you take your EQ to a higher level. 

Finally, adaptability measures your ability to adapt to the changing landscape of your industry. 

Are you able to guide your organization through change so it evolves as quickly as the technology and people it depends on? Can you identify ideas that are no longer relevant or appropriate and have the sense to toss them out and come up with new ones? How quickly are you able to tackle new challenges? Can you recognize when policies and procedures need a makeover?

Adaptability is immensely important because no matter what industry you are in, change is inevitable. It may be slower in some than others, but it is still bound to affect your organization. 

How you tackle generational differences, technological updates and changing industry standards will have a huge impact on your leadership. If you thrive in a fast-paced environment and not only embrace but drive change, you’ll be well-suited to be a leader.

A strong leader can help an organization’s culture thrive, and culture is one of the main things that keeps and attracts talent. What exactly are the very best people looking for in an organization? Author and business coach John Spence says it’s 6 things. Download our FREE guide to attracting and retaining top talent.

AssociationSuccess.org is a digital collaboration space for association professionals looking to challenge the status quo and think in innovative ways to move today's association industry into the future. We publish educational content from forward-thinking minds in the association industry and beyond. With articles, eBooks and our uniquely collaborative virtual conferences, including SURGE, we look to spark new ideas that can drive change and create new leaders. We don’t worry about where good ideas come from; we’re more interested in what those ideas actually are.

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AssociationSuccess.org is a digital collaboration space for association professionals looking to challenge the status quo and think in innovative ways to move today's association industry into the future. We publish educational content from forward-thinking minds in the association industry and beyond. With articles, eBooks and our uniquely collaborative virtual conferences, including SURGE, we look to spark new ideas that can drive change and create new leaders. We don’t worry about where good ideas come from; we’re more interested in what those ideas actually are.

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