Emotional Intelligence:Hallmark of leaders

Emotional intelligence remains one of the most prized hallmark of great leaders. How many times have you had to react in anger and frustration at your team members or direct support on their failure, poor performance and inadequacy in meeting the demands of their tasks? I bet severally; but how did you do it? Did you shout at them, banged on the table or even assaulted them emotionally? Most often, we do some of these in a bid to express our frustration. Unfortunately the outcome of our outbursts are negative impacts on all parties.

Without a balanced emotional intelligence, an executive with excellent strategies, best training in the world, great innovations, an incisive analytical mind, smart and highly intelligent ideas will fail to make a great leader. It has been proven over time that people with extreme display of negative emotions have never emerged as  drivers of good leadership. We have several examples of highly intelligent and highly skilled managers who earned their promotions into  leadership positions only to fail at the job because of unbalanced emotions. It is also not uncommon to have not-too intelligent executives soaring at their new positions simply by their abilities to manage emotions intelligently.

Very often many leaders realize at the end of the day that their outburst were way overboard. However, the damage would have been done and a damage control thereafter would not completely erase the effect. What then is the solution? Are people born with certain levels of emotional intelligence or do they acquire a balanced emotional intelligence as a result of training or life’s experiences? In other words, can emotional intelligence be learnt?

Like leadership traits, emotional intelligence can be innate and also learnt. However it has also been proven that emotional intelligence increases with age in an old fashioned phenomenon called maturity. It is believed that as one grows with age and experience, there is a tendency to empathize more as well as deal with issues more realistically.

 It is nevertheless important to emphasize that building one’s emotional intelligence cannot happen without a sincere desire and determined effort. CEOs are to lead in the direction of emotional intelligence training of their staff. This is because emotional intelligence does not only distinguishes outstanding leaders but can also be linked to strong organizational performance. There is a direct link between an organization’s success and the emotional intelligence of its leaders and their team

Daniel Goleman Identified five components of emotional intelligence at work that may also be applied to our private lives;

  1. Self-Awareness- The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others
  2. Self-regulation- The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods. The propensity to suspend judgment and to think before acting
  3. Motivation- A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence
  4. Empathy- The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. Skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions
  5. Social skill- Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks. An ability to find common ground and build rapport

All of these five components are recommended to be incorporated not just in the training programs of an organization but must also be considered in the recruitment and onboarding of new hires. Now this does not in any way replace the competency requirements of technical skills and relevant qualifications. Rather, it should be seen as a compliment or the icing on the cake for the making of an efficient workforce required to meet the demands of this age.

It would therefore be unwise to think that strong  intellectual capacity, expertise and technical ability are not important ingredients in strong leadership. But they would not be complete without a balanced emotional intelligence. The fact that emotional intelligence can be learned is an advantage that leaders should explore. The process may not be easy initially, but like all learning processes, it will take time, dedication and commitment to the process. It will also take lots of practice so that even when we fail, we do not give up on the process. Ultimately, the benefits that come from having a well-developed emotional intelligence, both for the individual and for the organization, make it worth the effort.

By Adenike Babajamu

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