Emotional Intelligence: essential for outstanding leadership

Although high IQ is a must have to be successful in your job, a high EQ, emotional intelligence, is the factor required to stand out as a leader.

emotional intelligence makes the difference between being a good leader and being a great one

The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been spread widely since the mid 1990’s partly due to the excellent work of Daniel Goleman and co-workers. EI or emotional quotient (EQ) is the ability of individuals to recognise their own and other people’s emotions. It is about discriminating between different feelings and labeling them appropriately, and using emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour.

Is emotional intelligence on the agenda?

Before EI, the main emphasis in management, leadership or in companies and institutes was on cognitive intelligence (IQ). This was also reflected in the teaching systems in schools, universities and courses: it was all about being capable of absorbing knowledge, developing skills and applying these in the right moment.  In some companies and regions, EQ is nowadays on the agenda, not only in business life but also in education. However, there are still lots of examples where people, organisations or institutes seem to be stuck in the dark ages of old style command and control.

Importance of emotional intelligence for leaders?

Research performed by Goleman and Boyatzis found that people who are successful in leading positions, generally belong to the top 20% of cognitive intelligent people. In that respect, IQ is a kind of entry threshold: you need to be smart enough! More importantly, however,  the results showed also that the distinctive factor between the good and very best of this top 20% segment was found in emotional and social competencies. In other words: EQ is the spring board to reach top performance in companies and institutes.

Day in day out, we at Con-TACT see the impact of EQ in the overall performance of people and leaders we are working with. It is also our experience that people with a well-developed EQ are generally perceived as more sustainable leaders, so not only for a limited period of time. They can truly connect with their employees and support and enable them to excel.

Developing emotional intelligence?

The good news: everyone can learn and develop their EQ! To support leaders in this endeavour we often use 360-degree feedback instruments to give people vital information on how their behaviour related to a number of important emotional and social competencies is perceived by people around them. This is very valuable input for further personal development as it increases the awareness of the person involved: it gives information on strengths and weaknesses as they are seen by others and themselves. In our approach we can support the personal development through coaching and/or specific training. This is based on our insight and experience that EI can be developed to a certain extent, although the presence of talent is important as well. However, it all starts with awareness.

If you want to discuss this subject further get in touch with me direct or check our Virtual Leaders Lounge agenda.


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