What distinguishes great leaders from average ones?
A factor that psychologists call “emotional intelligence,” also known as EQ. When Daniel Goleman analyzed executives at nearly 200 companies, he found emotional intelligence was twice as important as both IQ and technical ability in driving performance.
At the most senior levels, it accounted for a whopping 90% of the difference between the best and the rest.
But what exactly is emotional intelligence?
According to Goleman, it’s made up of five components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy,and social skill. Let’s examine each in turn.
Self-awareness is understanding one’s own emotions and their effect on others. Self-aware leaders are confident and candid. They can realistically assess and talk about their strengths and weaknesses, often with a self-deprecating sense of humor.
Self-regulation is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses. Essentially, to think before acting. Effective self-regulators tend to be trustworthy, comfortable with ambiguity, able to suspend judgment, and open to change.
Motivation is a passion to work with energy and persistence for reasons beyond money or status. It means being driven, goal-oriented, optimistic, and committed to the organization.
Empathy is the ability to understand the emotional needs of others and to treat them accordingly. Empathetic leaders are good at developing and retaining talent, serving clients and customers, and managing cross-cultural sensitivities.
Social skill is proficiency in managing relationships, developing networks, building rapport and finding common ground.It makes leaders more persuasive and helps them create change.
How to improve our EQ?
According to research, we can all increase our level of emotional intelligence with training that activates the brain’s limbic system, which governs our feelings and impulses. This works best in three steps: incentive, extended practice, and feedback. And because all the EQ components are interconnected, you’ll find that improving in one area can help you do better in the others too.
Consider an executive whose colleagues say she is low on empathy because she doesn’t listen well: She checks her phone in meetings, sometimes interrupts people, and often glosses over or disregards differing points of view. When her boss points this out, the executive is surprised. In her view, she was just being efficient and direct. But the feedback incentives her to improve.
Privately, she replays certain incidents and thinks about how she could have acted differently. She also watches leaders who are good listeners and tries to mimic their behavior. With continued guidance from her boss, she gradually becomes more empathetic, boosting both the team’s morale and its productivity.
There’s no question that leaders still need raw intelligence and good technical ability. But that’s a baseline. Great leaders must also have or develop the five components of high emotional intelligence:self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.
- Emotional intelligence (or EQ) matters more to great leadership than IQ or technical expertise does and comprises five components:
- Self-awareness (understanding one’s own emotions and their impact on others),
- Self-regulation (controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses),
- Motivation (feeling a passion to work with energy and persistence, not for money or status),
- Empathy (understanding others’ emotional needs and treating them accordingly), and
- Social skill (managing relationships, developing networks, building rapport, and finding common ground).
- High-EQ leaders are confident, candid, trustworthy, and open to change. They suspend judgment; are optimistic and committed to their organization; and excel at managing talent and customers, persuading others, and driving change.
- Leaders can build their EQ if they have the right incentive, opportunities to practice, and specific feedback on which components they need to strengthen.
How this applicable to you?
- Rate yourself on the five EQ components: (1) self-awareness (understanding your own emotions and their impact on others), (2) self-regulation (controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses), (3) motivation (feeling a passion to work with energy and persistence, not for money or status), (4) empathy (understanding others’ emotional needs and treating them accordingly), and (5) social skill (managing relationships, developing networks, building rapport, and finding common ground).
- If you’re not sure how you rate on the five components, ask trusted colleagues or friends to give you feedback on your abilities in each. Or, assess the degree to which you demonstrate specific qualities of a high-EQ leader. These include being confident, candid, trustworthy, and open to change; suspending judgment; being optimistic and committed to your organization; and excelling at managing talent and customers, persuading others, and driving change.
- If you need to strengthen one or more of the five EQ components, identify leaders who excel at those components. Observe them to see how they manifest their abilities in those areas. Then practice those same behaviors in your own professional life.
Categories: Reading Notes