The role of emotional intelligence in effective leadership


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The role of emotional intelligence in effective leadership

  1. 1. 1The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Effective LeadershipIntroductionRecent researches now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets starperformers apart from the rest of the workers because its principles provide a new way tounderstand and assess people‟s behaviors, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills andpotential. It is a recent behavioral model that came into being with Daniel Goleman‟s 1995Book called „Emotional Intelligence‟ but the theory was developed in the 1970s and 80s throughthe writings and works of psychologists Howard Gardner of Harvard University, Peter Saloveyof Yale and John Jack Mayer of New Hampshire (TalentSmart Inc., 2013).Objective of this paperThe objective of this paper is to highlight the importance of emotional intelligence in effectiveleadership and the need for leaders to learn how to develop such and use it in everyday activities. It willdemonstrate that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance and will mentionsome great leaders that have fallen due to their inability to manage or control their emotions. Finally, itwill proffer some strategies that can help leaders to develop their emotional intelligence for effectiveleadership and productivity.Statement of ProblemsMany a leaders have failed to carry their followers along for one reason or the other based ontheir attitude or remain in a state of incompetence for many years due to some factors that are notknown to them but they are working and have nothing to show for their efforts, this problemnecessitated the reason why the study is on Emotional Intelligence because, it has been found to be apredictor of performance and professional success.
  2. 2. 2Definition of Emotional IntelligenceBradberry, T and Jean Greaves in Emotional Intelligence 2.0 say “Emotional intelligenceis your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability touse this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” How we manage our emotions,that is, feelings like anger, jealousy, feeling slighted, feeling misunderstood, feeling under-appreciated, resentment, hopelessness, insecurity, fear, anxiety, feeling isolated, feelingpowerless, etc at work can make all the difference to our career and daily work life. Therefore,as leaders we must take note of our emotional intelligence because it does have an impact on ourprofessional success. In simple words, Emotional intelligence is about understanding ouremotions and the emotions of those around us which will help us to learn how to manage andhandle them in the workplace as well as in other areas of our lives.In, it was stated that “emotional intelligence is the “something” in eachof us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we mange behavior, navigate social complexities, andmake personal decisions that achieve positive results”. (,). It is animportant consideration in human resources planning; job profiling, recruitment interviewing andselection. It is also relevant to organizational development and developing people.Emotional Intelligence and Job PerformanceEmotional Intelligence (EI) is also known as Emotional Quotient (EQ), it is differentfrom Intelligence Quotient (IQ). According to the literatures, there is no known connectionbetween IQ and emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a flexible set of skills that canbe acquired and improved upon with practice since it is a balance between rational and emotional
  3. 3. 3brain (limbic system). Someone with a low IQ but high EQ is better as a worker than someonewith a high IQ and low EQ (,). According to the Consortium for Researchon Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, “success requires more than IQ (IntelligenceQuotient), which has tended to be the traditional measure of intelligence, ignoring essentialbehavioral and character elements.” All around us are people who are academically brilliant butare socially and inter-personally incompetent. According to a study carried out by TalentSmartIncorporation, emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills like decisionmaking, presentation skills, accountability, stress tolerance, anger management, trust, flexibility,social skills, customer service, communication skill, customer service, and among others, foundout that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance. This is so because; it isthe foundation for a host of many critical skills that are needed at the place of work. It is thebuilding block on which most of the activities of the day are built on, so leaders need it tofunction effectively and to perform greatly. The study also revealed that 90% of top performersare also high in emotional intelligence which also impacts their annual income.Two Primary Competencies of Emotional IntelligenceThere are two aspects or competencies of EQ which are Personal and SocialCompetencies. The Personal competence is made up of self-awareness and self-management.Self-awareness deals with one understanding himself, his intentions and behavior while self-management deals with one being able to use the knowledge of himself to control his emotionand direct his behavior. The Social aspect is made up of Social awareness and Relationshipmanagement. Social awareness deals with understanding people and their feelings while
  4. 4. 4Relationship management deals with one being able to use the knowledge of his own emotionand other people‟s moods, behavior and motives to manage interactions successfully.Theories Connected to Emotional IntelligenceThere are a number of behavioral, emotional and communication theories that supportEmotional Intelligence, some of them are, Transactional Analysis, Neuro-LinguisticProgramming (NLP), Multiple Intelligences Theory, Love and Spirituality in OrganizationTheory and Ethical Business and Socially Responsible Leadership Concept to mention but few.Further readings can be done on these to learn more on EQ and how it can be used to better ourleadership to more productivity.Effective Leadership and Emotional IntelligenceGood leadership in the 21 Century requires attitudes and behavior which are virtues ofhumanity. It requires deep human qualities, beyond conventional notions of authority; it builds onserving the organization or group and the people within it, therefore, it demands emotional strengthsand behavioral characteristics which can draw deeply on a leader’s mental and spiritual reserves.Leadership is about behavior first then followed by skills. Leaders need to be able to make toughdecisions when required but most importantly they should concentrate on enabling the team to thrive,this is a “serving” role, not the dominant “leading” role commonly associated with leadership.Meyer (1997, p.8) has it that our emotions won’t disappear and go away therefore; we must notdeny their existence or feel guilty because of them but to channel them in the right direction. Asleaders, we need the ability to balance them, that is, showcase them when they are positive and helpfuland to control them when they are negative and destructive. For example, the Holy book even allowsthe exhibition of the emotion of anger to some extent, this can be found in the book of Ephesians 4:26
  5. 5. 5where it stated “Be ye angry, and sin not: Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” As leaders, we canbe angry with our subordinates or colleagues but must not allow the emotion of anger to destroy us andour career.The spirit of perfectionism is another emotion that leaders need to be careful about. Mayer(1997, p. 212) recorded that “it sets a leader for inferiority complex”, usually, when a leader fails in oneof his responsibilities or unable to meet his goals or keep his schedule as planned, he starts thinking,thus the spirit of perfectionism and neuroticism set in and these lead to “self-hatred, which opens theway to all kinds of deep physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dangers.” (Mayer, 1997). Mayerposited that a leader should determine “to reject the roots of bitterness, shame, negativism andperfectionism and nourish the roots of joy, peace, love and power,” and to continue to praise the Lordand confess His words over our lives and careers. (Mayer 1997, p.213).Harrell (2005) advice that “attitude is paramount in achieving personal fulfillment” therefore, aleader should build the “right team, with the right attitude” to form the supportive relationships that areneeded to achieve personal and professional success, such team which may comprises a number offriends, and co-workers, should be able to give constructive criticism or feedback. He further says “donot let petty office or school politics have power over your personal or professional success. Monitorwhat you hear, what you read, and what you say.” (Harrell, 2005, p.167).Tracy (2005) says “when you face an unexpected problem or crises discipline yourself to staycalm, to focus on the solution rather than the problem”, as leaders; we are to learn the emotion ofcalmness when things go wrong because things must go wrong occasionally for growth andadvancement to happen. He further states that “top people realize that every problem is anopportunity to grow in self-control and personal confidence, therefore, cultivating the ability to remaincalm, relaxed and clear-eyed is very important since the “height of the problems you are capable of
  6. 6. 6solving” determines the height we attain in life (Tracy, 2005, p.203). It is recommended that leadersshould learn how to accentuate the positive in the people and not the negative. Praise loudly and blamesoftly. Never publicly blame another person for a failure. Always give your people the credit for yourachievements and successes.Consequences of Uncontrolled EmotionsLiteratures have it that many leaders have fallen throughout the ages for not cultivating theability to control their emotions either in the time of sadness or happiness. Below are some highlights.The Bible recorded that Moses was one of the world’s greatest leaders; he led the Israelites out ofbondage in Egypt, Goodall (2010) has it that “one day the pressure got to him and he “lost” it all. Hisanger and disappointment with the constant criticism from people he was leading boiled to the pointwhere he exploded.” The price he and Aaron paid was so severe the Lord said to Moses and Aaron.“Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will notbring this community into the land I give them” (Number 20:12). What a price? As leaders, we need tobe careful of power intoxication and heed to what the book of Proverb 29:11 says, “A fool gives full ventto his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control”, may we not lose the fruits of our laborthrough uncontrolled anger.Another great leader did a similar thing and fell unredeemable, according to the narration ofGoodall (2010), Alexander the Great had problem with his temper. “On one occasion, Cletus, achildhood friend and general in his army, became intoxicated and ridiculed the emperor in front of hismen. Blinded by anger, Alexander snatched a spear and hurled it at Cletus, he had intention of scaringthe drunken general, the spear took his friend’s life” (Goodall, 2010 p. 75). What a lesson to the leadersof the 21stCentury. Alexander was able to conquer many nations, but he was unable to control his ownanger. Power over appetite is another skill we need to learn as leaders.
  7. 7. 7Sexual harassment continues to be one of the primary problems facing leaders in the workplaceand it exists at all levels within an organization in relationships categorized as male-to-female, male-to-male,female-to-male, and female-to-female. In many cases, the harassment occurs because the harasser is in aposition of leadership or authority that provides the necessary power to facilitate the harassingbehavior. When power is used unethically, as in the case of sexual harassment, the leader and theorganization may face serious consequences. The unethical use of power results in employeessubmitting to unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical abuse, or requests for sexual favors inexchange for continued employment. For example, an Army drill sergeant was tried and convicted forsexual assault and rape, notwithstanding the fact that many of the victims admitted that they consentedto the sexual encounter, found the defendant sexually attractive, and in some cases enjoyed theencounter (Odom, L. Green C., Hodgson, N.S., Fenton, K. and Calvert, D. p. 3). However, the court ruledthat the defendant used his position of power and influence over the trainees to effectively negate theirconsent, therefore, he was fired.Advantages of Developing Emotional IntelligenceAs leaders and managers, the development of our Emotional Intelligence and the understandingof the five EQ domains as identified by Goleman can help us to become more productive and successfulat what we do, and also be of help to others. Other advantages of developing our Emotional Intelligenceare reduction of stress for individuals and organizations, reduction in conflicts among workers,improvement in relationships and understanding which will result in personal and social harmony atwork place.Emotional Intelligence helps a leader to develop and appreciate the connections between self,others, purpose, meaning, existence, appreciate the world as a whole. A leader with such will also beless insecure and be more open in his dealings. As identified by Goleman the five domains of EQ are: 1)
  8. 8. 8Knowing your emotions. 2) Managing your own emotions. 3) Motivating yourself. 4) Recognizing andunderstanding other people’s emotions and 5) Managing relationships, i.e. managing the emotions ofothers for productivity and harmony.In an Excellent 30 minute BBC Radio 4 Discussion about Modern Leadership broadcasted onSeptember 2, 2006 as stated on, “there is the need for effective modernleaders to have emotional strength and sensitivity, far beyond traditional ideas of more limitedautocratic leadership styles.” For leadership to work well, people (employees and interested outsiders)must be able to connect their expectations, aims and activities to a basic purpose or philosophy of theorganization.ConclusionIn conclusion, it has been found out that when leaders say that the people are not following, it’sthe leaders who are lost, not the people, because, it is not possible for a leader to understand and leadpeople when the leader’s head is high in the clouds, therefore, loyalty to leadership relies on the leaderhaving a connection with and understanding of people’s needs and wishes and possibilities. Leadershave great responsibilities therefore, the need to have great discipline over their emotions sinceuncontrolled emotions can destroy the work of many years and even brake a relationship of a lifetime,let us learn to develop our Emotional Intelligence for posterity sake.RecommendationThis paper is not able to address all kinds of emotions that are being exhibited at the work place,I therefore make a recommendation of this book – “Why Great Men Fall: 15 Winning Strategies to RiseAbove it All” written by Goodall, Wayde, and published by Still Waters Publications, Ibadan in 2005 tocomplement what has been written so far.
  9. 9. 9ReferencesConsortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations. (2012). 24-3-13.Goodall, Wayde. (2005). Why Great Men Fall: 15 Winning Strategies to Rise Above it All. Ibadan: StillWaters Publications.Harrel, Keith. (2005). Attitude Is Everything. USA: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.Maxwell, John C. (2007). Leadership Principles for Graduates. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc.Meyer, Joyce. (1977). Managing Your Emotions: Instead of Your Emotions Managing You. New York:Warner Books Inc.Odom, L., Green, C., Hodgson, N.S., Fenton, K, and Calvert, D.(2003). "Leadership, Power and SexualHarassment: An Ethical Perspective," Kravis Leadership Institute Leadership Review.TalentSmart Inc. (2013). Accessed 12-03-13.Tracy, Brian. (2010). No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline. Nigeria: Beulahland Excellent 30 Minute BBC Radio 4 Discussion about ModernLeadership. Accessed 24-3-13.