Emotional intelligence [EI] and leadership effectiveness


IQ and technical skills are “threshold capabilities.� They’re necessary but not sufficient requirements for leadership. It’s the possession of the five components of emotional intelligence, self awareness, self-management, self-motivation, empathy and social skills that allow an individual to become a star performer.

Without EI, a person can have outstanding training, a highly analytical mind, a long term vision and an endless supply of terrific ideas, but still not make a great leader. This is especially true as individuals move up in an organization.

The evidence indicates that the higher the rank of a person considered being a star performer, the more EI capabilities surface as the reason for his or her effectiveness. Specifically, when star performers were compared with average ones in senior management positions, nearly 90% of the difference in their effectiveness was attributable to EI factors rather than basic intelligence.

Examples of leader with strong emotional intelligence would include US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, and Rudy Giuliani. Powell’s intuitive ability to connect with others makes him a superior diplomat. But maybe the most striking example is how the maturing of Ruby Giuliani’s leadership effectiveness closely followed the development of his emotional intelligence.

For the better part of the eight years he was mayor of New York, Giuliani ruled with an iron fist. “He talked tough, picked fights, and demanded results. Result was a city that was cleaner, safer, and better governed—but also more polarized. Critics called Giuliani a tyrant. In the eyes of many, something important was missing from his leadership. That something his critics acknowledged emerged [so September 11, 2001] as the World Trade Center collapsed. It was a newfound compassion to complement his command: a mix of resolve, empathy, and inspiration that brought comfort to millions. It’s likely that Giuliani’s emotional capacities and compassion for others were stimulated by a series of personal hardships—including prostate cancer and the highly visible breakup of his marriage—that had taken place less than a year before the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre.

EI has shown to be positively related to job performance at all levels. But it appears to be especially relevant in jobs that demand a high degree of social interaction. And of course, that’s what leadership is all about. Great leaders demonstrate their EI by exhibiting all five of its key components:

* Self-awareness: Exhibited by self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.

* Self-management: Exhibited by trustworthiness and integrity, comfort with ambiguity, and openness to change.

* Self-motivation: Exhibited by a strong drive to achieve, optimism, and high organizational commitment.

* Empathy: Exhibited by expertise in building and retaining talent, cross-cultural sensitivity, and service to clients and customers.

* Social skills: Exhibited by the ability to lead change, persuasiveness, and expertise in building and leading teams

The recent evidence makes a strong case for concluding that EI is an essential element in leadership effectiveness.

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  • raghu raman

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