By TERRI RABICOFF
Scottsdale Leadership Class XIX
This is the first of a multi-article series discussing the relationship of leadership and emotional intelligence.
Leadership and Emotional Intelligence (EI) Part One
Ever observe someone you considered an ineffective leader and wonder why they were in a leadership position? They are intelligent and have the cognitive abilities to do the job, but do they have people skills—the interpersonal intelligence? They may have a genius level IQ, but are clueless when it comes to dealing with people. Here is where emotional intelligence (EI) can play a key role in determining the difference between an effective leader and an ineffective leader. Defined by Daniel Goleman, EI is the noncognitive abilities that help people adapt to all aspects of life. His research argued that these human competencies (interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies) play a larger role than cognitive intelligence in determining success in life and in the workplace, separating average from the first-rate performers. While the findings are not sufficient to state “conclusively” that leaders with high levels of EI are better leaders, 25+ years of empirical studies done in the fields of IQ and EI show that there are clear connections between the higher ranges of EI and the possession of skills and abilities associated with leadership excellence. Gaining an understanding of those connections provide individuals in leadership positions ammunition in their efforts to enhance leadership performance.
While leadership performance has always been considered important, events in the last several years like 9/11 and the Enron and WorldCom scandals have brought to the forefront the amount of power and influence a leader can have over his or her followers. When organizations stop and consider significant questions such as what motivates a leader to choose a certain course of action, what causes people to follow someone they perceive as a leader and when does leadership become detrimental or ineffective, they may need to reexamine the methods and approaches in which they recruit, hire, develop and promote leaders in the workplace.
Organizations promoting individuals based solely on their business expertise and ignoring their emotional intelligence competencies could lead to poor individual performance as a leader, employee attrition and potential organization failure in the areas of internal recruiting and hiring practices and organizational succession planning. Studies reveal that “when selection, training, and succession planning are based on the emotional intelligence models, organizational as well as individual effectiveness improves” (Bar-on, Handley & Fund). Weisinger, in his book Emotional Intelligence at Work, asserts that “the lack of emotional intelligence undermines both an individual’s and a company’s growth and success.”
One approach to studying and analyzing leadership behavior is to delve into the implications that emotional intelligence contributes to effective performance. My MBA thesis was an “Exploratory Study of the Significant Contribution That Emotional Intelligence Competencies Can Have on the Successful Transition of an Employee from Individual Contributor to That of a People Leader”. In conducting my research, I was surprised at how many organizations did not include EI in their hiring, training and promotion programs.
Please share your thoughts and experience on this subject.