emotional intelligenceWhen stating what creates a leader instead of “my boss”, most people list the traditional ideas of leadership: decisiveness, determination and vision.  These qualities help success, but they do not assure it.  Emotional intelligence is what moves the concept of “my boss” into “the effective leader” of my company.  Emotional intelligence encompasses the ideas of self-awareness, self-regulation,  empathy and social skills. These ideas began entering the public radar in the late 90’s and since that time have continued to build influence in evaluating if a person will succeed in a leadership position.

Daniel Goleman was one of the first to tie emotional intelligence to effective management.  After reviewing high-performing senior leaders with average leaders in 200 US and international businesses, Goleman discovered that 90% of the difference between the two groups is due to emotional, rather than cognitive intelligence. He first publicized his research in Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: the New Science of Human Relationships.  It was a New York Times bestseller and the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times has listed him as one of the most influential business thinkers.  His ideas also appeared in the Harvard Business Review in the article “What Makes a Good Leader (2004), which Harvard Business Review lists as a “revolutionary, paradigm-shattering idea” and chose it as one of the 10 must-read articles

The foundation of emotional intelligence is self-awareness.  Self-awareness is a step beyond knowing and stating what your emotions are; it is the ability to reflect upon how your feelings affect other people and your, as well as their, job performance. Self-awareness helps you make objective and candid statements about the environment you are in and how to improve it, a very useful skill when trying to pinpoint the source of a problem and potential resolutions.  Also, self-awareness is the first step in self-regulation.  You honestly know what triggers your emotions and what you can do to avoid these.  Your honesty pays off in your employees’ feeling that they can make honest assessments about how your company’s new direction affects the front lines. And, self-awareness means that you will proactively self-regulate your responses to difficult situations.

Since you recognize how you react in a particular environment, you understand that your employees will have their own unique reaction, just like you.  This promotes a feeling of empathy.  Numerous studies show that empathy is the key in retaining talent because employees see and feel that the business relates to their personal needs of professional and personal development.  The empathy that you can show rises up from your awareness of your responses.  In global business, empathy becomes more important because it will help you listen to and navigate the unknown terrain of different cultures’ responses to your business.

Self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy are the key for evolving social skills needed to mature your business.  You can think of social skills in a business as bonding for a purpose of getting things done.  And, things get done through an integrated effort from a group of people.  You never know what project will come up that you need different types of talent to perform.  By using your social skills with the bonding approach you have a network in place to draw from, hear more ideas from, and support new initiatives.

Traditional IQ which people associate with ability to acquire technical skills and be creative and analytical forms the baseline for management.  When you add a high-level of emotional intelligence to a keen intellect the workplace moves from just capable to remarkably effective.