Leadership Notes #58 – Emotional Intelligence

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

A theme that runs thru many of these Notes is the need for leaders to understand themselves to be a better leader. “Emotional Intelligence” falls into that. What is Emotional Intelligence? Well, we know what emotions are. We all have them: anger, happiness, sadness, joy, etc. The basic idea of EI (or EQ, I’ve seen both abbreviations used) is about the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. And we have all met leaders who do a good job of handling emotions and working with others well. These are probably the leaders we want to work with. And we’ve all met leaders who do a poor job of handling emotions, who are usually unpleasant to work with.

The important thing (I think) with EI is that you can take tests to determine your EI levels. And then you can work to improve your EI levels and be tested again to see how you’ve done so.

There are several models, but what seems to be the one used in the area of leadership is based on the work on Daniel Goleman. His work, “Emotional Intelligence” (1995) is one of the leading works. His more recent “Primal Leadership” (2002) with Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee more clearly ties it to leadership. What made his work so popular, was he (and those who followed him) have shown that those with higher EI levels are more effective as leaders then those who aren’t.

In his model, EI is made up of four domains or skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation or self-management
  • Social management or social awareness
  • Relationship management

These domains are actually gathered into 2 groups. Self-awareness and Self-management are about personal competence. They are about how we manage ourselves. And Social awareness and Relationship management are about social competence. They are about how we manage relationships with others.

What are these domains?

Self-awareness deals with emotional self-awareness. This is about reading your own emotions and understanding their impact. Your “gut sense”, if you will, is also part of this. You also need to have an accurate self-assessment of yourself: know your strengths and limits. And you need to have self confidence. But this needs to be true self-confidence- a sound sense of your own self-worth and capabilities, not a puffed up or false sense of worth.

People with high self-awareness are the ones who seem “in control”, even in a crisis. They are open and honest with others, with clearly defined goals. Those who are low in self-awareness will be positive when things are going well, but seem to be “under stress” when things aren’t going well. They often push back or push off onto others.

Self-management is about what happens when you do or don’t do something. It’s the continuation of self-awareness. It’s how you react to your emotions. Being in control of your emotions, having emotional self-control. Other aspects are displaying honesty and integrity. You must be adaptable to changing situations or obstacles. Further, you need to have a drive to improve things and initiative, which means you seize and act on opportunities. And you must be optimistic – seeing the positive in things.

People with high self-management, again, are those who are open and honest with others, and are in control even in a crisis. They are always positive in their interactions with others. People with low self-management are those who often are deceitful with others. They may spread lies and rumors, or put others down. And in a crisis, they lose control.

At this point, it should be clear that these are ALL characteristics that we should want to see in ANY leader. Those who we meet and think are good leaders probably have high levels of self-awareness and self-management.

Moving into the social competence domains, we see this going further.

Social awareness is about how you can pickup the emotions/feelings of others and understand how they are feeling. Listening and observing are a big part of this. Sometimes the term used is `empathy’, which is about sensing others emotions, understanding them, and most importantly, take an active interest. Another aspect of this is to take it further to the group, and be aware of the group’s `mood’, if you will. And there is a service element of this, as you need to recognize and meet the needs of the follower.

People who are high in social awareness show a great empathy for others. They are great at “active listening” and communication with others, and are able to defuse issues when others are upset. They also show a genuine interest in others and are able to help them with their issues. Those low in social awareness often show a lack of carrying about others. They don’t listen. They don’t care about the opinions, input, or feelings of others.

Relationship management is a big one. It actually builds on the other 3, as it’s about how you use your understanding your emotions (self-awareness) and others (social awareness) and manage interactions successfully. It’s about the relationships you build with others: your followers, your peers, your superiors (those above you in the group). A lot of things go into relationship management. Inspirational leadership, which is about having a compelling vision and influence. You must develop others and at times be a change catalyst. You need to be able to manage conflict, but also build bonds and establish teams.

People high in relationship management are usually the ones we think of as great leaders. They work well with others, finding common ground, and work to bring out the best in others and bring people together. When there are issues, they work to bring this to a positive conclusion. People low in relationship management are usually the ones we think of as bad leaders. They seldom work well with others, are always find (and pointing out) faults and flaws. When there are issues, they usually make things worse.

What I found interesting is that many of the elements that go into Emotional Intelligence are many of the leadership topics I’ve covered (or in some cases will cover) in this series. I see: ethics (honesty and integrity), change (both being adaptable and being a change catalyst), listening and communications, service to others and develop them (basically servant leadership), influence, conflict management, and teamwork.

Goleman has also gone beyond Emotional Intelligence into the area of “Social Intelligence”, which looks a human relationship. If you want to read his works, either his short works on EI and leadership (published in the Harvard Business Review) or his work on “Primal Leadership” are what I would recommend.

If you are interested in an EI/EQ test, there are a few out there. Here is a free on-line test:
http://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=3037 “Self-Scoring Emotional Intelligence Tests” is an inexpensive option. This booklet is stocked at most Barnes & Noble stores.

A more extensive work is “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves, which serves as a good introduction to the concept along with an on-line test (this is why, like the StrenghsFinder works, you must get this book new so you can access the on-line test). It gets into strategies on how to improve you EI. I would actually recommend this work for those wanting to get into EI rather than Goleman’s more academic works, and it uses Goleman’s EI model.

Short video with David Golemon on EI: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJhfKYzKc0s

There is a series of videos based on a webinar on EI from Tracom. This is a decent overview of the concept:
Video 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNbEi4Jazho
Video 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6R5gGpY_Zg
Video 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aosCUfMOuks
Video 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1SJX6jEkz0
Video 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7rKnbCS-E0
Video 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZIIGgd1OVQ
(note this video series makes reference to Social Styles, which I covered in a prior Notes)

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