What’s the Most Overlooked Leadership Trait? Emotional Intelligence!

Emotional Intelligence – Common Sense but Sense isn’t Common!

Emotional IntelligenceOne gets the feeling that many terms in management are little more than advertising gimmicks – words or phrases that dress up common sense or known facts as a way of selling consultancy projects. (In their defence, one has to say that common sense is not that common!) At first sight, the term “emotional intelligence” is one of these – and indeed much of what is encompassed in the term is not new. Calling it “EI” rather adds to the suspicion.

However, it does seem to be a very useful concept. Many people work with a distinction between logic and emotion. Logic is good. Emotion is bad. Business is supposed to run on logic and emotions (especially in others) should be ignored, allowed to pass or patiently endured.

But why is it so important for leaders to understand…

Star Trek’s Relevance to EI

Sta r TrekThe concept of emotional intelligence brings feelings into the centre of business life. A person with intelligence is usually defined, as someone who knows things, can work out things, can see connections, can analyse in a logical way. We tend to use the word in an intellectual sense but there are many other forms of intelligence. Thus a painter, a sculptor, a cabinetmaker, a pianist or an ace bricklayer may not exhibit what we think of as intellectual intelligence (though they also may.) They have a form of intelligence which manifests itself in the mastery of shape and form. Emotional intelligence is yet another type.

People said to have emotional intelligence can control and understand their own emotions and more importantly are able to connect with others’ feelings, to comprehend them, to reflect them and to treat them as important. If you have seen “Star Trek, the Next Generation”, you will be familiar with the character of the counsellor whose role it is to advise Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the emotional world that surrounds him. The android character, Data, has all the logical intelligence but none of the emotional intelligence and both are vital as advisers and support to our hero.

What’s New

So what’s new I hear you ask? Well it’s that research has now set out to measure emotional intelligence and correlate it with managerial and leadership success.

It appears that emotional intelligence skills make the greatest difference in performance at work – greater than logical intelligence. It has been said that nearly 70% of organisational culture and climate is created by the nature of the leader and that up to 30% of business results stem from the culture that is created. Increasing management emotional intelligence has been claimed to increase productivity by up to 200% – a lot! – and sales people with high emotional intelligence skills sell twice their emotional intelligence challenged colleagues. Indeed, an absence of emotional intelligence skills has been said to account for the eventual failure of even the apparently most brilliant leaders.

Surprised- Don’t Be!

Emotional intelligence skillsWhy should anyone be surprised by this? Organisations are composed of people. Business is done between people. People have values and therefore emotions. Decisions have to take account of them – and major ones are usually made on the basis of them.

From our personal experience emotional intelligence is “common sense that is not commonly applied” It is our goal in Call of the Wild to help our clients develop their emotional intelligence as the research is  unequivocal in showing a direct positive correlation with workplace performance.