Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

The day after I posted on Emotional Intelligence (EI) in schools the latest edition of Management Issues dropped into my in-box.

This is one of my favourite newsletters/blogs and it featured an article on Emotional Intelligence by Dan Bobinski.

He maintains that 2/3  of the difference between average and top performers is due to EI and that in senior positions it accounts for 80% of the difference. Which seems a good reason for managers and leaders to work at developing or enhancing their EI levels.

And so he sets out a 10 step plan to help them do just that, starting with the idea that we should stop thinking about good and bad personality and think of people as just being different. And that different isn’t the same as difficult, it’s just that people haven’t learnt how to deal with differences. The full article is at http://www.management-issues.com/2010/3/30/opinion/ten-secrets-of-emotional-intelligence.asp

Since Goleman popularised the term emotional intelligence 15 years ago it has become massive (I just googled the term and got almost 3 million hits). Interestingly when he first described EI it had 5 elements but once he became involved with HAY/McBer it evolved into the classic 4-box model much beloved by consultants. The 4 boxes can be generically described as Self Awareness; Self Control; Awareness of Others; and Managing Relationships.

Self-awareness is generally agreed to be the starting point in developing EI  and also in developing leadership skills. In a report published by the Work Foundation earlier this year, Penny Tankin said: “Outstanding leaders focus on people. Instead of seeing people as one of many priorities, they put the emphasis on people issues first”. And the Institute for Leadership & Management (ILM), which obviously  has an interest in developing leaders, agrees with the report that developing leaders is possible but difficult.

The ILM’s Chief Executive Penny de Valk thinks: ” A lot of it is about becoming more self-aware. You need to be much more conscious of the clues you use both verbally and in gestures. … a lot of coaching now teaches this kind of thing”. Tankin agrees and adds that psychometric profiling will give an insight into what people are like and any areas for improvement and that; ” a lot of these things can be learned from feedback from others”.

As a coaching psychologist this is music to my ears as I regularly use psychometric tools such a the MBTI and Firo to help clients become more self-aware – followed up by 180 and/or 360 feedback.

Gordon Brown was apparently demonstrating his lack of self-awareness, and empathy if it comes to that, even as I was posting this article. First calling someone who disagreed with him a bigot (see Bobinski’s proposition that different can be seen as difficult to deal with), and then blaming everyone but himself for the outcome of his petulant outburst. PS GB later accepted the blame for what happened, presumably after discussing the matter with his PR advisors.

Surprising many people, Gordon Brown showed a more human side with his resignation speech even admitting that he had frailties. There is some aspect of his personality which stops that being part of his public persona – perhaps his need to be in control (which then allegedly unravels under stress). Good leaders know that occasionally it pays to selectively admit to weaknesses.

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