This is the first article (of 3) looking at the contribution emotional intelligence (‘Ei’) makes to leadership.
No doubt, you will have heard the term ’emotional intelligence’?
What do you think it means? Here are some common responses:
- does what it says on the tin?
- trendy psycho-babble that will disappear as soon as the next trend comes along?
- new neuroscience that is yet to be proven?
- or something else?
Firstly, let’s look at a very common misunderstanding about Ei: that is it ‘new’.
Of course, humans have always had ’emotional intelligence’, but did you know that the roots of our current understanding of it and when it was specifically identified date back to the work of Thorndike circa 1920?
That’s right! Our knowledge of emotional intelligence is almost 100 years old! Certainly not new!
The term ’emotional intelligence’ was certainly being regularly used in American academia in the 1960s, and it reached the world of popular science in the early 1980s. Since then, research and our understanding has continued apace, not least as shown by the plethora of books on the subject (not all of them good, I hasten to add!).
So, it’s probably been around longer than you thought, and our understanding of Ei has now reached the point where we can accurately measure it, we understand how to change it, and we know how to develop it in making those changes.
The really ‘good’ news is that Ei is something you can continuously develop.
But what is Ei?
Whilst it has many measurable component parts, here’s a summarised description:
“Emotional intelligence is the awareness and understanding of the relationship between our attitudes (thoughts), or feelings, and our behaviour, how they influence each other, and the impact they have on our relationships with ourselves and with others.”
To think of Ei in graphical form, see the image at the top of this post – trying to keep the three elements (thoughts, feelings, behaviour) balanced is where we should aim to be.
But, how does Ei apply to leadership in simple terms?
As this is the first article in this series, I’m going to briefly look at the ‘cornerstone’ of Ei: attitudes. Attitudes are the core ‘building blocks’ from which our Ei is ‘built’, supported and developed.
For a leader to be successful, from an emotionally intelligent standpoint, they need to have their attitudes in balance.
By this, I mean how well they understand and develop the regard they have for themselves (how they truly and accurately accept themselves ‘warts and all’), and how they keep it in balance with how ell they understand and develop the regard they have for others (how they truly and accurately accept others ‘warts and all’ without judging them or ‘colouring’ they opinions of them).
As you can see, this is an essential part of leadership as any leader needs to be able to understand themselves and in doing so develop an understanding of the other people they work with and are being asked to lead.
For more information, please try this further reading – my earlier blog articles:
(based on the Ei Model developed by JCA Global Limited, and the book “Emotional Intelligence @Work” by Jolyon Maddocks)
To find out more about measuring and profiling Emotional Intelligence, particularly in developing leaders and managers, and in assessing your teams and recruitment needs, please contact me:
e: click here
© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.