Emotion Intelligence and Leadership
Most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It is not IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as “threshold capabilities”; that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. Without emotional intelligence, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.
IQ and technical ability are not necessarily important ingredients in strong leadership as emotional intelligence would be missing from the recipe. Technical capability may support one person to manage a process or a task, however, it does not help the person to interact with others and influence them effectively. Thus, the emotional intelligence is “need to have” for a person to be an effective leader; who can implement changes and demonstrate high performance in an organization.
Emotion intelligence distinguishes outstanding leaders and can also be linked to strong performance. McClelland found that when senior managers had a critical mass of emotional intelligence capabilities, their divisions outperformed yearly earnings goals by 20%. Meanwhile, division leaders without that critical mass underperformed by almost the same amount. There is a link between a company’s success and the emotional intelligence of its leaders. And just as important, research is also demonstrating that people can, if they take the right approach, develop their emotional intelligence.
The good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned. The process is not easy, but it is doable. It takes time, and most of all, commitment. But the benefits that come from having a well-developed emotional intelligence, both for the individual and for the organization, make it worth the effort.
Emotional intelligence components are:
Self-awareness: knowing one’s strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and impact on others. Self-confidence, realistic self-assessments, self-deprecating sense of humor and thirst for constructive criticism are prominent characteristics.
Self-regulation: controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods. Trustworthiness, integrity, comfort ambiguity and change are the result of self-regulation.
Motivation: relishing achievements for its own sake. A passion for the work itself and for new challenges, unflagging energy to improve, and optimism in the face of failure are hallmarks of motivation.
Empathy: understanding other people’s emotional makeup. Expertise in attracting and retaining talent, ability to develop others and sensitivity to cross-cultural differences.
Social skills: building rapport with others to move them in desired directions. Effectiveness in leading change, persuasiveness, extensive networking and expertise in building and leading teams.
The best approach to develop emotional intelligence skills is probably feedback system and coaching to learn on actual job. Another good news is these skills, and ultimately emotional intelligence, will improve by practice. The more team leading, and more volunteering work will create capacity and resiliency, which both are requirement of high ratio emotional intelligence and leadership quality respectively.