In the context of emotional intelligence, being independent means that a leader is capable of feeling, thinking, and working on his/her own. Leaders that exhibit strength in this area welcome or request guidance from others, but usually make the ultimate decision. They also accept responsibility for their decisions and mistakes, and acknowledge that people will not always agree with their perspective. But like anything else, a strength can become a detriment under certain situations. With that in mind, here are a couple of strategies for effectively managing strength in this area.
If you are high in independence, it is important to recognize that not every situation requires you to act autonomously, even if it is your preferred approach. Here are three questions you should ask yourself before deciding independently:
1. Am I missing subject matter expertise to make an informed decision?
2. Am I hurting collaborative relationships by making this decision on my own?
3. Does my decision have implications for those I work with? Would their input help me predict these implications?
Additionally, effective independent leaders don’t march off in their own direction hoping that others will follow. They balance self-directed thought with the ability to secure buy-in and support from key relationships. Reflect on past decisions that were not well supported by your colleagues. What did your decision-making process look like? Where might securing buy-in have broken down? You can easily strengthen this area of emotional intelligence by brainstorming ways that you can involve others in your decision-making process. The ultimate decision or plan may rest with you, but it will be easier to gain support when others feel empowered throughout the decision-making process.