Guides & Resources

AFP LEAD: Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Styles

Karen Dyer

Technical skills may get you hired for a position, but emotional intelligence will allow you to remain and be successful in the role.

At AFP LEAD, the fundraising community’s conference on leadership in all its forms, Karen Dyer, partner with On Point Leadership, will present two different sessions—one on leadership and emotional intelligence, and a second on different leadership styles.

AFP asked Karen about herself, her sessions, and what participants will take away from her presentations that will help them become better fundraisers and better leaders.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself? What doesn’t show up in your bio on the AFP Lead website?

A: I'm a California girl born and bred who has been living in Greensboro, North Carolina, for about 20 years—a “California girl gone South.” I still consider California my home since I've no family here, but I like living here in Greensboro. My passion is for developing leaders—nonprofit, education, corporate/business, even student leaders.  When I'm not engaged in working with leaders, formally and informally, I enjoy theater—I serve on the board of a regional theater group—and spending time reading or with friends. I "retired" after working for 17 years at the Center for Creative Leadership, but I’ve been flunking retirement ever since.

But I'm enjoying every minute of it: consulting, coaching, working when I want and enjoying leisure that provides me joy!

Q: One of your sessions is on leadership and emotional intelligence. That’s a term we how a lot about now—emotional intelligence. What does it mean?

A: Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions with individuals and in group settings that enhance and support interpersonal relationships. Emotional intelligence is what contributes to personal and professional success. People higher in emotional intelligence are happier with their lives and perform better on their jobs.

Q: How are emotional intelligence and leadership connected and/or work together?

A: Leaders, in order to be effective, must have a high degree of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is twice as important as technical skills. Technical skills may get you hired for the role, but emotional intelligence will allow you to remain and be successful in the role. EQ is not just nice to have—it is a "need to have."

Q: Are there ways we can improve our emotional intelligence? How do we do that?

A: Yes, emotional intelligence can be learned and improved. There are four major areas where people need to focus on improving:

  • Self-awareness: the ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen, including being aware of how you tend to respond to specific situations and certain people.
  • Self-management: the ability to use awareness of emotions to stay flexible and positively direct your behavior, including managing emotional reactions to all situations and people.
  • Social awareness: the ability to pick up on emotions in other people and get what really is going on, as well as understanding what other people are thinking and feeling, even if you don't feel the same way.
  • Relations management: the ability to use awareness of one’s emotions and the emotions of others to successfully manage interactions by letting emotional awareness guide clear communications and handle conflict resolution

Q: Your other session is on leveraging your own leadership style to lead change. How many different leaderships would you say there are?

A: There are probably as many different leaderships as there are leaders.  When I think of effective leadership, I tend to look at those leaders who can effectively set direction, gain alignment, and foster commitment. There are three major aspects:

  • Direction: agreement on collective aim, mission, vision, or goal;
  • Alignment: organization and coordination of work; and
  • Commitment: willingness to place collective efforts and benefits above individual benefits.

Q: Are there particular leadership styles that are better at leading change, or is it simply a matter of understanding your leadership style?

A: This is where emotional intelligence is aligned with leadership. Knowing your change style and your general approach to change (e.g., conserver, pragmatist, or originator—all of which will be described during my session when participants will be able to take an assessment that helps them identify their change style) will help one understand how they can more effectively work with others around situations involving change.

Q: Can we change leadership styles? Do we have different leadership styles in different situations?

A: I don't believe that anyone is "hard-wired" to a certain approach to change.  Rather, we all have preferences in how we tend to respond and react in most situations. Effective leaders are aware of their style preferences but are able to adapt in different situations.

Q: What will someone who attends these sessions be surprised about afterwards?

A: Some attendees will learn more about themselves as agents of change, or they will be affirmed but perhaps did not have language to describe themselves or the opportunity to reflect upon what they already knew.  Many attendees may learn about the importance of emotional intelligence and how they can become more aware of how they can more effectively manage their emotions.

Karen M. Dyer, a partner in On Point Leadership, was formerly the director of the education and nonprofit sector for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). Having served in this capacity for seventeen (17) years, she was responsible for leading the work that insured CCL’s portfolio of programs, products, and resources were made available to social sector leaders (e.g., nonprofit, higher education, and pre-K-12) - enterprise wide. She was a facilitator of the Women’s Leadership Program and recently named Honorary Senior Fellow – one of CCL’s highest honors. Prior to this position Karen was the executive director of the Chicago Academy for School Leadership. She has also served as a state-wide executive director, school district administrator, school principal, and an adjunct professor at California State University, Hayward and Nova University.

Be sure to attend Karen’s great presentations on emotional intelligence and leadership styles, along with so many other amazing sessions, at AFP LEAD, Oct. 3 -5 in Phoenix, Ariz. For more information and to register, click here.

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