Great leaders don’t talk about emotions, do they?


“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire us to give the best of us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we generally talk about strategy, vision or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more basic: great leadership works through emotions.” – Daniel Goleman.

You hear a lot about emotional intelligence these days. In my previous Leadership Memo (newsletter), I mentioned that 21st century leaders need to have emotional intelligence. But what is it? Is it something that one was born with or is it something that can be learned and trained?

Emotional intelligence is primarily our capacity to address others and ourselves effectively, to connect with our emotions, to manage them, to self-motivate, to put the brakes on our impulses, to overcome frustrations, etc. 

There are 4 basic dimensions:

  1. Self-awareness 
    • We need to start with recognizing our own emotions. We need to understand what we feel before we can have an accurate self assessment. 
    • With an accurate self assessment, we can have self-confidence. 
    • Once we have self-awareness, we can move to self management and social awareness.
  2. Self management 
    • It is self-regulation and internal (or self) motivation. 
    • Basically, it is our ability to orient ourselves towards our goals, to recover from setbacks and to manage stress.
  3. Social awareness and empathy 
    • Once we are self-aware, we can develop empathy and have bigger organizational awareness, i.e. recognizing other people’s emotions. 
  4. Relationship management
    • It is the ability to relate, to communicate, to reach agreements, to connect positively and respectfully with others. 
    • Once we have self management, social awareness and empathy, we can finally move into relationship management. 
    • It is in this dimension that we can finally be an inspirational leader, a change catalyst. We focus on developing others and building bonds. We know how to influence and how to manage conflicts. We value teamwork and collaboration.

Regardless of what we were born with, emotional intelligence can be learned and trained. Next time, we’ll go into details about how to train ourselves. In the meantime, tell me what your understanding of emotional intelligence is. Do you think it’s important in today’s world?


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