Emotional Intelligence – The Link To Strong Leadership
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
Fifty years ago a strong leader was typically perceived as a charismatic, tough individual with an autocratic leadership style. The words “emotional intelligence” are not likely to have appeared in the job description. Today’s more empowered workforce does not respond to autocratic leadership. To lead effectively, leaders need to have a strong dose of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence emerged, as a concept, in the 1920’s and was further developed during the twentieth century. Its importance in the leadership context became clearer upon the publication in 1995 by Daniel Goleman of his book “Emotional Intelligence”. Goleman (and other researchers) have conducted research across hundreds of organisations and thousands of executives, which clearly demonstrates the importance of emotional intelligence to those in leadership positions. When Goleman compared star performers with average performers in leadership roles, he found that nearly 90% of the difference in their profiles was attributable to emotional intelligence factors. Goleman, writing in the Harvard Business Review in the late 1990’s, described emotional intelligence as the “sine quo non” of leadership, with IQ and technical skills being seen as threshold capabilities.
Emotional intelligence can be learnt. It covers a broad range of competencies from self-awareness (understanding of one’s own emotions) and self-management (ability to control one’s emotions and impulses), to social awareness (reading and understanding others and understanding social networks) and relationship management (the ability to inspire, influence and develop others). Research in the last 20 years has found a strong link between leadership effectiveness and these emotional intelligence skills and competencies and has also indicated that the absence of emotional intelligence has been related to career derailment.