What is emotional intelligence? – BW

What is emotional intelligence? – BW
(Thanks Na for posting this on your FB)
When considering effective leaders, most of us can quite readily think of examples from the sporting arena. If pressed for reasons for this view, our answers are likely to include comments such as ‘performs well under pressure’, ‘sets very high standards for him/herself and the team’, ‘makes the most of his or her ability always giving 100%’ and ‘a good team player’. In simple terms these are all characteristics of emotional intelligence.

Goleman describes a model of emotional intelligence comprising four domains and twenty competencies in his most recent book, The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace. The four domains are self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management.

The first two of these domains are personal.
+ Self awareness is characterised by a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths and weaknesses, an ability to accurately and honestly self-assess.
+ Self management is about the control and regulation of one’s emotions, the ability to stay calm, clear and focused when things do not go as planned, the ability for self motivation and initiative.

The second two domains are social, and concern a person’s ability to manage relationships with others.
+ Social awareness covers empathy for example, in the ability to consider employees’ feelings in the process of making intelligent decisions either on a one-to-one basis or as a group.
+ Relationship management covers the ability to communicate, influence, collaborate and work with colleagues.

Emotional intelligence has an enormous impact in the workplace…For some time we have recognised the importance of these components of emotional intelligence to those who go about their ‘work’ on the sporting field and intuitively we have understood their importance in the more traditional workplace. However, it has only been in recent times that strong empirical evidence has been gathered which highlights the enormous impact high emotional intelligence can have in the workplace.
Researchers have gathered data from hundreds of companies and thousands of executives measuring the importance of individual emotional intelligence competencies, as well as the clusters of emotional intelligence competencies that make up each domain. Goleman’s own findings are typical. When he compared star performers with average performers in senior leadership positions, he found that nearly 90 per cent of the difference in their profiles was attributable to emotional intelligence factors.

“EI is the sine qua non of leadership…”As Mr Goleman wrote in the Harvard Business Review 1998, ‘It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as threshold capabilities, that are they are entry level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership”.

Like most professional competencies, high emotional intelligence will be reflected in a person’s behaviour in the workplace. A ‘special test’ for emotional intelligence is therefore not necessary as a rigorous performance management system will include an assessment of the key components of emotional intelligence. The approach to executive evaluation is driven by a large body of research which indicates that the most effective way to evaluate workplace performance is through structured behaviourally-based interviewing and 360o reference checking conducted by high calibre, trained evaluators.
Careful definition of the key competencies and their behavioural indicators will ensure that the process evaluates such things as the way an executive controls his or her emotions during times of stress or the way he or she interacts with colleagues (including superiors, peers and subordinates). Consultants at Egon Zehnder International routinely perform such evaluations in the course of completing assignments in the area of management appraisal or executive search.

Can you learn emotional intelligence?
Our traditional education system has in the past focused on the three ‘R’s and the development of our cognitive skills. Therefore it is not surprising that whilst a few people may have naturally high emotional intelligence, most of us need some skill development in this area. Fortunately, Goleman and others have shown that the bulk of scientific research in this area supports the view that emotional intelligence can be learnt.

Further Reading
•Emotional intelligence and leadershipSean Davies – Egon Zehnder International http://www.ceoforum.com.au/article-detail
•Best of HBR on Emotionally Intelligent Leadership, 2nd Edition (HBR Article Collection) Author(s): Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee, and Richard Boyatzis …

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