IT leadership: 4 ways to boost your emotional intelligence

The best leaders understand and accept their weaknesses and develop strategies to address them. Consider this expert advice on how to turn flaws into features
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CIO as Digital Leader

Whether you’re a CEO or team manager, you have likely learned that directing others and contributing to the success of a company as a leader is no easy feat. Businesses have their ups and downs, and leaders can feel added pressure as people look to them for advice and direction.

Yet this is what makes being a leader special – diving headfirst into challenges and successes with your team. When your business is growing, you’re also growing – facing personal challenges and successes.

4 ways to tackle your flaws as an IT leader

As a good leader, you also need to acknowledge the flaws that may be holding you – and ultimately your businesses – back. Based on my own experience, here are four ways leaders can tackle their flaws to ensure they bring their best selves to work.

1. Own your mistakes

Always be quick to acknowledge that you’re fallible. Mistakes will happen. What sets true leaders apart is owning up to their errors. Causing a commotion and pointing fingers over a misstep wastes precious time, and responding to criticism or questions about your actions with an emotional outburst instead of accepting the blame can be detrimental to the company culture.

[ Also read: IT leadership: 4 tips on achieving your goals in 2022. ]

The faster you as a leader can understand what you’ve done wrong, own your mistakes, apologize for them, and set a course to ensure it doesn’t happen again, the better the relationships and outcomes between you and your employees will be. Leading by example fosters and supports a culture of accountability and trust within a company.

2. Take time for yourself

Leaders face immense pressure, from ensuring customer and employee happiness to reaching key business goals. However, one factor many leaders overlook is their own happiness.

Leading by example fosters and supports a culture of accountability and trust within a company.

As a leader, take time to do what you are passionate about outside of work. Doing so will help you be more patient and optimistic when you’re at work. For example, I love training for triathlons, so I block out periods during the day to train. Specifying time to spend doing what I enjoy allows me to release frustrations, center my thoughts, and bring a smile and my best self to work.

3. Seek additional advice

Leaders often struggle with taking advice, whether it is about improving your company or yourself. I strongly believe that seeking additional advice and perspectives from others in the company is a great way to foster leadership skills.

In addition, professional therapy can be a valuable way to deal with stress and stay focused. Problems that happen outside of work will inevitably find their way into your work life at some point. Therapy can help you work through personal thoughts, concerns, and issues that are weighing on you, so you don’t bring them to the office. It also helps you better understand your own strengths and limitations.

4. Hire for what you don't like to do

One of the hardest things about being a leader is delegating power and decision-making to others. However, one of the best things you can do to grow as a leader is hire other people and entrust them with the responsibility to share in that decision-making, especially for the tasks you don’t enjoy.

For example, my passion lies in product engineering, not areas like sales or marketing. Hiring great people to run those aspects of the business helps free up my time to spend doing what I love doing and do best. By letting go of some of the power and responsibility, great leaders can foster new leaders who need opportunities to grow, to make mistakes, and to become great leaders themselves. That kind of work may be challenging, but it ultimately strengthens the company and creates a lasting legacy.

As my company has grown, I’ve faced challenges, and that will certainly continue. How I handle those issues makes a difference in the trust of my employees and the company’s overall culture. By understanding, acknowledging, and tackling your flaws as a leader, you will chart a smoother course for your business, handling the ups and downs with confidence and building trust with your employees.

[Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask.]

Chris Federspiel is CEO at He began his career at a young age, coding websites in middle school followed by Perl and CGI scripts in high school. He later moved into the field of sales and marketing for Internet Creations and Silverline.