Culture – Organisational, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership

Emotional Intelligence: Critical Leadership Development – yet watch the trap here!

Emotional intelligence (EI) is no longer a novice aspect of leadership, for it has been widely acknowledged now for over 25 years. This has given opportunity for longitudinal studies to be conducted demonstrating how essential the nature of EI is for effective leadership.

In examining EI as being a critical element for leadership development, let’s explore what EI is. By now many would be aware of Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis’ popularised work in this area, where they define EI using four key facets:

  1. self-awareness
  2. self-management
  3. social awareness
  4. Relationship Management

The first two facets, 1 & 2, focus on what emotionally is occurring internally with the ‘self.’ Points 3 & 4 is ‘other’ focused involving emotional competencies in the social sphere. Points 1 & 3 focus on one’s ‘awareness,’ of self and others without which change, and appropriate thoughtful response to stimuli, are not possible. Points 2 & 4 involve the tendency of the leader to be able to ‘Manage’ or regulate their own responses to the emotions they’ve been made aware of in self and others.

Even at a surface level it is self-evident that improving these four facets would contribute to greater effectiveness in leadership. Research has now borne out the effectiveness of EI in leadership by demonstrating its positive impact on areas such as, organisational culture, functional teams, highly engaged employees, and increased performance. EI is therefore a highly sought-after leadership commodity as a predictor of organisational leadership success, and rightly so.

If we further deconstruct the facet of ‘Relationship management,’ it reveals important organisational leadership factors that are highly desirable when recruiting leaders, developing emerging leaders and honing the skills of senior leaders. They are as follows:  

    • Influence
    • Inspirational leadership
    • Developing others
    • Change catalyst
    • Building bonds
    • Conflict management
    • Teamwork & collaboration

Having these listed out above does assist in gaining further clarity for the content and focus of practical approaches to implementing increased EI in leadership programs. It makes obvious sense that leadership programs and developmental coaching should target these elements of EI, However, there can be a danger.

The reality is that many leadership development programs do tend to focus predominantly on the elements of ‘Relationship management’ listed above. Here in lies the trap. Some fail to recognise the other three EI facets of “Self-awareness,” “Self-management,” and “Social awareness,” are foundational building blocks to developing “Relationship management.” Therefore, many EI leadership coaching and training programs unwittingly attempt to make leaders run before they can walk or even crawl. They miss critical elements necessary for effective “Relationship management.”

If an organisation wants to develop an organisational culture rich with EI behaviours, then start from the day employees, or even volunteers, are recruited. Start small with self-awareness programs, where all front-line employees are trained and/or coached in these areas. With shared training and/or coaching experiences, employees use similar vocabulary to describe their experiences, which speeds up the inculturation process.

Ensure that as employees progress, either over time or in their position, that they are scheduled to keep progressing in their EI development. Ensure that any succession planning within the organisation entails adding all the facets of EI, so no one gets internally promoted into supervisory or managerial positions without being developed in their emotional intelligence for optimal outcomes in both relational interactions and performance.

If EI is an area that you would like to grow in personally, or you are a leader who would love to implement EI behaviours within your team or across your whole organisation, then feel free to contact us to discuss your needs or request a sample report. In our coaching collective we have team members who are fully certified in the use of EI assessments that produce amazing clarity to one’s strengths and growth areas. We can also assess at a team, departmental, or organisational level, delivering customised training to assist in your succession planning and address any cultural gaps in your organisation.

By David Allan

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