Controversy has arisen often times that stars are born over the concept of others that stars are made. I lay no claims to be the final arbiter but I do stand to agree to both sides that stars are both born and made. A star is born in his person. Personality is vague and elusive, defying analysis like the perfume of the violet. It is the totality of the person’s traits, predilections, tendencies, temperament, cast of vigour, experience and training. It as complex as Einstein’s law of relativity and as little understood. Personality is very largely determined before birth by genetics. In all, it is an extremely difficult fact to alter or improve. Yet we can, by taking thought, strengthening it to some extent and making it more forceful, somewhat attractive. Such later improvement is in the making of a star. The making of a star begets competencies for star performance. This article focuses on some of such competencies that make star performers.
According to Daniel Goleman in his book titled Working with Emotional Intelligence, he defined Competence as a bundle of habits – what we think, feel, and do to get a job done. When such a habit is dysfunctional, replacing it with a more effective one requires enough practice of the better habit and an inhibition of the former that the neural circuitry for the old behaviour finally withers and the circuitry for the better one grows stronger. Eventually the new habit will replace the old one as automatic response. While enthusiasm and a can do spirit are helpful, they can only work to the degree that people have the underlying skills and competencies to make them work. If you don’t have empathy or are socially inept, sheer enthusiasm is no replacement. This brings us to the two competencies for today’s discussion -emotional and social competencies.
Emotional Competence- As we become mature, to a large extent, the process of becoming more intelligent about our emotions is developed with age and experience from childhood to adulthood. Emotions are contagious. Good feelings spread more powerfully than bad ones. Emotional competence requires being able to pilot through the emotional undercurrents at play rather than being pulled by them. While purely cognitive capacities remain fixed, emotional competence can be learned at any point in life. The top on this emotional competence tool kit is influence.
Influence – we are all part of each other’s emotional tool kit for better or worse, we continuously prime others emotional state and they do ours. The art of influence requires handling emotions effectively in other people. Star performers are artful at sending emotional signals. Empathy as the first step is crucial for wielding influence.
Empathy – A simple definition of empathy is this; first to understand and then to be understood says Steven Covey in his book titled Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. We cannot understand other people if we don’t listen empathically. Empathy is not sympathy; it’s a form of agreement and judgement. Empathic listening gets inside another person’s frame of reference. The essence of empathic listening is that you fully, deeply understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually. Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with instead of projecting your own autobiographies and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives and interpretations, you are dealing with the reality inside another person’s head and heart. The second step in wielding influence is building rapport. However, building rapport is a social competence tool.
Social Competence- Social intelligence matters more immensely for success in a world where work, especially research and development is done in teams. Rapport building is central to developing strong useful relationships. Rapport hinges on empathy and emerges naturally in the course of natural conversation about family, sports, children and stuff of life. The social competencies in building rapport for star performers include team work and networking.
Team Capabilities- ‘’none of us is as smart as all of us’’ says a Japanese proverb. If you ask successful people to reflect on how they learned what they currently know, they’ll tell you- we learnt all we know from and with each other. Every team becomes a learning tab for the very capabilities people need in order to become a better team member. Every member of a team brings unique strength and skills to the group. Some technical, some emotional and some social capabilities. The ability to make everyone love what they are doing is at the heart of team building and team leadership. Making team decisions present a paradox. On one hand, the wisdom holds that the more intense the debate, the better the final decision. On the other hand, open conflict can corrode the ability of a team to work together. In sum, there is a middle way; the team can use intellectual battle to upgrade the quality of decisions, provided the keep the debates free of the emotionality that might sabotage commitment to the decision. The key lies in emotional competencies such as self awareness, empathy and communication.
The Competent Team Leader- The best team leaders are able to get everyone to buy into a common sense of missions, goals and agenda. The ability to articulate a compelling vision that serves as the guiding force for the group may be the single most important contribution of a good team leader. A charismatic leader can hold a team on course when all else fails. However, strong leaders do not act as the group’s brain or make autonomous decisions. When team leaders express their own opinion too early in a decision-making discussion, the group generates fewer ideas and so make poorer decisions. But when the team leader holds back, acting mainly as a facilitator of the group’s process without imposing their views or expressing them until toward the end of the discussion, the outcome is a better decision. In this sense, team leaders lead best when they lead least.
The Art of Networking- One of the virtues of building relationship is the reservoir of good will and trusts that arises. This network may be quite distant from the web of friends we cultivate primarily for pleasure. Relationship building has a motive. People skilled at networking often mix their private life and their work so that most of their personal friendships are made through work. Though it takes clarity and discipline to keep work and private agendas from being entangled. The network of star performers is not random, they are carefully chosen with each person being included because of a particular expertise or excellence. Each member of a network represents an immediate available extension of knowledge available with a phone call. People who work a network well also have an immense time advantage over those who have to use a broader, more general source.
Some Final Thoughts- Intelligence in one of its most basic sense is the capacity to solve problems, meet challenges and create valued products. At the individual level, elements of this intelligence can be identified, accessed and upgraded. At the group level, it means fine-tuning the interpersonal dynamics that makes groups work smarter. At the organisational level, it means using the value hierarchy to make intelligence a priority in the concrete terms of hiring, training, development performance, evaluation and promotion for star performance. person’the analysis like the perfume of the violet. it r is born in his person. pesonality