Kellogg: 4 Traits Of Successful Leaders

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

It’s not enough to only have hard technical skills these days. Rather, experts say, successful employees bring both hard skills and soft skills to the table.

In a recent podcast, Brenda Ellington Booth, Clinical Professor of Management and Organizations at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, discussed four key components that define EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.


Self-awareness, the first component, is mostly the ability to recognize your own emotions and how they affect those around you.

“It’s that self-check-in,” Booth says. “Sometimes, if you notice your feeling, you might have a choice to make.”

The second component, self-management, is all about making that choice of how you respond to your emotions.

“Given how you feel, what do you need to do? What choices do you need to make?” Booth says.

One practical tip Booth offers to practice self-management is setting an “intention” before meetings with teammates. Oftentimes, practicing self-management is about asking yourself key questions.

“What do you want to get out of this meeting? Or how do you want to show up for this meeting?” Booth says. “How do you want to be perceived, and if you are feeling a little bit off or antsy. Then there’s gonna be a mismatch between how you feel and how you want to. And so you might need to do something to shift your own energy or to help you focus.”


The third component of EQ is social awareness, the ability to focus on those around you and understand how they’re feeling.

“So you might have a sense of how you’re doing, and you might be fine,” Booth says. “But then it’s reading the room or reading another person and having a sense of what’s going on with them.”

Relationship management, the fourth component of EQ, is all about taking social awareness one step further. In other words, it’s the action of building stronger relationships based on your social awareness.

“It’s not only looking at and reading the room and getting a sense of what’s going on, but then really kind of almost intuiting, or even asking what the team or the other person might need,” Booth says. “And so if you’re not reading the room, and if you don’t kind of even ask perhaps what people might need or want, you miss vital cues, and you lose your effectiveness as a leader. So clearly, now, you can see in these more social situations, where leadership effectiveness is highly correlated and linked to a successful leader.”

How can you tell if you’re a successful leader? Just look at your followers, Booth says.

“My definition of a successful leader is someone who has followers, basically,” Booth explains. “People who are willing to follow you. And it has two dimensions, certainly the cognitive part of the intelligence part, but we also talk about the warmth part as well. So, there’s this mix of warmth and competence, that go into really what it means to be an emotionally intelligent leader. You need both. And it’s just not about being the smartest person in the room. But how you’re making people feel. When they leave a meeting with you, how are they feeling? Do they feel deflated? Do they feel energized? And a lot of that is you being able to read the room.”

Sources: KelloggInsight, Stacy Blackman Consulting

Next Page: 2 critical factors to weigh in deciding on an MBA

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.