Leadership Performance: Moving Beyond Intellect
By Cheryl Jensen, Managing Partner How would your employees rate your leadership? How might they rate your emotional intelligence?
For the last several years, we’ve asked participants in our training programs some simple questions:
What qualities and talents do good leaders have?
What qualities and talents do poor leaders have?
Each time we facilitate this activity, we find that what separates a good leader from a poor leader is their emotional intelligence (EI). It isn’t about how smart leaders are, but rather their level of emotional intelligence.
A study was conducted with the world-famous training center, Center for Creative Leadership, that looked at 302 leaders and senior managers, some who were quite successful and others who were struggling. They were tested for emotional intelligence with the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) and were also measured on leadership performance based on feedback from superiors, peers and subordinates. The findings showed that eight emotional intelligence sub-scales (i.e. self-awareness, stress tolerance and empathy—to name a few) could predict high leadership performance 80 percent of the time.
One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein: “We should take care not to make the intellect our god. It has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead, it can only serve.” Emotional intelligence is not a sole predictor of leadership performance and development potential, but it is proven to be a key indicator for success. The good news is EI is not a static: It can change over time and can be developed in targeted areas. For example, a strong visionary leader may wish to focus on developing emotional self-awareness, empathy, self-regard and problem solving skills. A leader who wishes to be a good coach may focus on strengthening emotional self-awareness, empathy and social responsibly.
What is your EI? What is the EI of your team members? What are your leadership strengths and gaps? Leadership is a continuous journey with many rewards and challenges. Learning about our EI is an important step in assessing our leadership style and ability. I encourage you to pause and reflect on this important element of your professional leadership style and the role of emotional intelligence in your success as a leader.