Why emotional intelligence is a vital skill for successful leaders

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Why emotional intelligence is a vital skill for successful leaders

The secret war that will determine your success

For years, a war has been waging in secret. The greatest academic minds have been fighting tooth and claw for the honour of being crowned champion. Waiting for the other to make a false move so they can land the final crushing blow. They’re now both in siege mode and there is no end in sight.

This all sounds very dramatic. And you’d think for a battle this hard-fought they must be fighting over the solution to world peace or our ability to time travel. But they’re not. Academics have become locked in an abstract battle, one that on the face of it appears to be of little or no importance, but to us, as lovers of theory and praxis, is a battle of great significance.

So, what are academics fighting for? Their fight is over the importance of EI (Emotional Intelligence) vs IQ (Intelligence Quota). Seems anti-climactic we know. But for leaders, managers and employees everywhere the outcome is one of great importance.


Why fight at all?

This battle, all be it one fought in research papers and journals, stems from one of the most important questions academics have been asking for years - what makes people successful?

For years IQ has been sat on a pedestal as the shining answer to what makes people successful.

This answer dictates everything from hiring decisions, school curriculums, exams, advancement opportunities and the appointment of leaders. You can start to see how an insignificant argument on the face of can have a widespread impact on our everyday lives. Our society is geared towards the development and success of individuals with high IQ.

But this answer is being challenged. More and more people are questioning the assumption that IQ alone dictates your success.


EI vs IQ

Critics, including Daniel Goleman the author of Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ and psychologist, suggests high IQ is no guarantee of success. Although IQ can be an important element in success, experts are beginning to recognise it is not the only determining factor.

The measure of intelligence (IQ) may be too narrow and insufficient to encompass the full range of human intelligence that can dictate success. After all, there are plenty of incredibly successful people who don’t have a high IQ.

IQ is a measure of academic orientated skills such as mathematical abilities, language skills, knowledge of the world, reasoning, memory and problem-solving ability.

Goleman suggests intelligence is influenced by a complex array of forces including, among other things, Emotional Intelligence (EI). Goleman believes EI plays a greater role in success than IQ. And that it would be more valuable to focus on and develop EI than IQ.

EI is a measure of emotion orientated skills such as how well you perceive, express, control, relate to and evaluate the emotions of yourself and others.


The secret mind of the successful leader

For us, there is no battle to be fought. We stand resolutely behind EI. Although it may not be the perfect measure of all intelligence, we believe it is a healthier, more realistic and helpful measure of success than IQ.

Research has shown that successful leaders are often those who have high EI. Yet because of our determination to believe IQ is the be-all and end-all of success we continue to hire managers who have high IQ’s and low EI. Often these managers have great technical knowledge but lack capability for a leadership role where the aim is to inspire, care for and motivate a team of people.

If a leader can’t empathise with their team, they could burn them out, if they can’t understand why a conflict arose, they could break the team apart, if they’re unwilling to listen, they can squash creativity and motivation. But the good news is with a flexible, adaptive mindset, emotional intelligence is a skill we can all develop.


Developing EI

You can become more emotionally intelligent if you are willing to have an open mind and invest time in your personal development. Start by focusing on these five core elements of emotional intelligence.

In our experience, many of the best leaders we know take the time to focus on these core skills to increase their emotional intelligence. You can too and become a more successful, inspiring and motivated leader for your team.

If you need support developing your emotional intelligence as a leader or as a team (emotional intelligence is a vital skill for sales teams!) get in touch by dropping us an email at admin@zentanogroup.com or  01905 915596, to discover how to be great at managing relationships with others.