Influence: The Emotional Intelligence Competency We All Want More Of

In 2012 Ismail Samad and his partners opened The Gleanery, a fine dining establishment aimed at tackling one of the most pervasive issues in the farm to table movement: the fact that healthy, local food is exponentially more available to middle and upper class communities.

A social entrepreneur, enterprise developer, and expert on closed-loop food systems, Samad wanted to make five-star meals out of “would-be-compost.”

His thinking: Eliminate food waste to put more money into the hands of farmers and drive down the cost of overproduction that gets passed on to consumers. The result would mean more fresh food for people in lower income brackets.

“The goal of The Gleanery was to create a fine dining restaurant that convinced diners to play a role in addressing this fundamental issue of abundance,” said Ismail in when we spoke. “By leveraging purchasing power to decrease the amount of food waste, you’re basically working towards closing the gap in access.”

But getting The Gleanery off the ground would require more than a kitchen and a staff. It would require a major shift in consumer mindset.

His core question—”Would you eat trash?”—challenged diners’ ideas about what was worth paying for.

“When we first launched the restaurant, we clearly needed to get the buy-in,” says Ismail, “because people were like, ‘Oh my God, that’s garbage, right? That’s seconds!’”

To be successful in his endeavor, Ismail would need to Influence.

One of two social awareness competencies in Daniel Goleman’s framework of Emotional Intelligence, Influence is the ability to have a positive impact on others in order to gain their support.

When we are strong in this competency, we:

  • Can persuade and convince others in order to build buy-in
  • Develop strong, trusting, and mutually beneficial relationships
  • Identify and positively engage our most important stakeholders
  • Understand the values, emotions, and preferences of our audience
  • Educate and inspire through clear communication and the use of stories

Done well, Influence draws on a variety of other EI competencies: the Self-Awareness and Emotional Balance to manage ourselves; the Empathy to understand the perspectives, feelings and viewpoints of others; the Adaptability to change course; the Positive Outlook to connect and inspire; and the Organizational Awareness to know who in the system can help us forward our goal.

It’s been said a million times: leadership is the art of getting things done through other people.

Influence is how we do that.

Family, friends, community, our team: anywhere there are relationships built on trust is a potential sphere of influence.

In this sense, we are all leaders

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