Emotional Intelligence for Leaders

What would you do if someone asked you held a gun to your head and demanded that you tell them your EQ? Would you become flustered, wondering if they meant IQ? Or would you be able to read the person’s emotions, manipulating their own fears, while controlling yours in order to take control of the situation? This situation is, of course, absurd, but it does beg the question: just how in control of your emotions are you and how can you improve upon that?

Emotional Intelligence: Not a New Concept

So what exactly is EQ? EQ is a measuring standard for Emotional Intelligence, a concept that has been traced back to Charles Darwin, who expressed the importance of emotional intelligence for both survival and adaptation. Since then, scientists and psychologists have uncovered the truth behind the significance of Emotional Intelligence and how it defines the way we utilize and process our traditional definitions of intelligence i.e. problem-solving, memory and computation skills.

Prominent American psychologist E.L. Thorndike used the early term for Emotional Intelligence (social intelligence) to describe one’s ability to understand and manage other people. Howard Gardner took this concept one step further with his Theory of Multiple Intelligences and introduced the two different types of EI: intrapersonal and interpersonal. Intrapersonal Emotional Intelligence consists of our ability to look inside and understand ourselves, appreciating our own fears, feelings and motivations. Interpersonal Emotional Intelligence is our ability to understand the motivation, intentions and driving desires of others.

Focusing on Leadership

While the former is very important for defining the type of person that you are, be it somebody who is driven by their own desires and motivated to succeed or somebody who is bound in mediocrity, it is the latter that we often look for when identifying good leaders. If we cannot fully understand and empathize with what makes those we are in charge of tick, there is no way in which we can command the respect and authority that is the very base for that command. It is the Interpersonal Emotional Intelligence that sets the good leaders apart from the bad and it is the survival instincts of those beneath us that allows for instantaneous distinction as to whether we possess these leadership qualities or not.

Author, psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman focuses his studies on Emotional Intelligence as being composed of a wide assortment of competencies and abilities that fuel leadership performance. His theories are topping the best-selling charts in book after book and show the extreme importance of Emotional Intelligence for leadership. Goleman’s model for EI outlines four major constructs which factor into leadership potential and execution:

  • Self-awareness. Intrapersonal EI. This is the ability to read one’s own emotions and ascertain the importance and impact that they have while making any “gut calls” during decision making.
  • Self-management. Intrapersonal EI. This is the ability to control your own impulses and emotions while adapting to changing environments, predicaments and circumstances.
  • Social awareness. Interpersonal EI. This ability to sense, comprehend and react to others' emotions while at the same time understanding and following social networks is a crucial leadership skill.
  • Relationship management – Interpersonal EI. The single most important aspect of Emotional Intelligence for leaders. This is the ability to influence, to inspire, to motivate and to develop others while managing crises and conflict in a rational manner.

Reach Your Full Potential EQ

Within each of these four constructs, there lies emotional competencies which are not necessarily inherent talents, but rather acquired learning which require development, guidance and training in order to blossom into their full potential. The fact of the matter is that individuals are born with general levels of emotional intelligence which dictate their potential ability to learn emotional competencies in each of the four EI constructs. In simple terms: Emotional Intelligence for leaders can be acquired.

For this reason, proper leadership training is not only crucial to the success of any person in a position of power, but to their company as well. Under the guidance and knowledge of someone who is properly trained and well versed in Emotional Intelligence for leaders, an average leader becomes good, a good leader becomes great and a great leader is able to recognize their full potential, grabbing hold of their dreams and leading those under his guidance into the valley of success right behind him.