Monday, July 20, 2009

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

In last week’s blog (The Single Most Important Leadership Lesson Ever) I introduced you to the concept of Emotional Intelligence. In short, I demonstrated that those bosses who had the most positive impact on your life were usually not the most technically brilliant or even technically competent bosses, but those that touched you in an emotionally positive way.

When I introduce the term Emotional Intelligence (EI) to executives in workshops, I’m often met with a series of chuckles and guffaws. “I never thought I’d see the words emotional and intelligence used together in the same sentence” they say. “Aren’t those a contradiction in terms?” is another common retort.

So what is Emotional Intelligence?

In short, Emotional Intelligence is your ability to understand and manage yourself and others around you, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, identifying what you do well and don’t do well, and relating to the world around you through your emotions.

In other words, how well do you know yourself? How well do you manage yourself? How well do you understand others? How well do you manage the emotions of others?

Here is a rather shocking statistic: 95% of your long term success at the executive level will not be the result of how smart you are, but rather of how well you manage the emotions of those around you.

The primary reason for careers stalling on the way up, or for executives failing in their roles, are directly related to Emotional Intelligence. When an executive possesses these skills (knowingly or unknowingly) they are taking full advantage of themselves and the talented people around them. When they don’t possess these skills, they are limited by their own intelligence. And while they may be highly intelligent, none of us is as smart as all of us.

Let’s take a brief look at how and why this happens.

As you start your career you are an individual contributor. As an individual contributor, you have a certain amount of control over your destiny. The smarter you are, the better you perform your job. The better you perform your job the sooner you are promoted to a higher level position, including that of a supervisor.

As a supervisor, you are somewhat dependent on those around you to accomplish their tasks and complete their assignments on time and with the appropriate level of accuracy. But should they fail, you have the personal expertise to understand what went wrong, why it went wrong, and you can even fix the problem yourself. So even as a supervisor you have a lot of control over your future. If your team performs poorly, you can often make up for it through your personal efforts. Ideas for improvements and changes may come from the team members, but more often than not, they come from the supervisors themselves. Hence your ability to control your fate is still largely in your own hands. And, if you do well, you can and will be promoted to manager.

This is where things begin to change.

More on this next time.....

ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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