Organizational Leadership News & Views

The connection between strong leadership and emotional intelligence

  • Alvernia MOL

Strength in communication and social skills, self-awareness and empathy are major elements that define emotional intelligence. People with emotional intelligence are the standout leaders, employees and team players who typically form successful and valuable relationships.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman brought the term “emotional intelligence” to a wider audience with his bestselling 1995 book of that name. Goleman has linked emotional intelligence with effective leadership.

He calls IQ and technical skills “threshold competencies” that are entry-level requirements for executive positions, while emotional intelligence is an essential part of leadership.

Travis Bradberry, author of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” writes in Forbes that emotional intelligence “is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.”

Emotional Intelligence and Performance
Goleman also connected emotional intelligence with measurable business results.

In his research, Goleman found the ability to work well with others and effectively lead change was twice as important in determining outstanding performance as technical skills and cognitive abilities. The importance of emotional intelligence was found to be more profound the higher up in the organization people were – emotional intelligence accounted for 90% of the difference in the profiles of outstanding vs. average performers among senior leaders.

Improving Emotional Intelligence
As employees and leaders, people can become more emotionally intelligent and in effect be more successful and efficient at achieving desired results.

Emotional intelligence can be developed. MindTools offers strategies for improving emotional intelligence. Here are a few suggestions pulled from them:

  • Take an honest look at how you interact with other people. Try to put yourself in their place and be more open and accepting of their perspectives and needs.
  • Do a self-evaluation. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. From this you can look at areas in which you can improve.
  • How do you react to stressful situations? Do you become upset, angry or blame others when something doesn’t happen the way you want? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued in the workplace and beyond.
  • Take responsibility for your actions. Once you accept responsibility for what happens in your life, you can begin to find solutions to the difficulties you encounter.

One of the best ways to understand your emotional intelligence is to receive feedback – both positive and negative – from your co-workers, managers, peers and direct reports. Called a 360 degree assessment, this gives a person a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. The course, MOL 520: Leadership Development 1, one of the first classes a student takes in the Masters of Organizational Leadership (MOL) program at Alvernia, includes a personal 360 degree assessment. Then, in the last semester of the MOL program, students conduct their second 360 degree assessment.  This is an essential step in understanding their emotional intelligence, which helps students become effective leaders.

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