Emotional Intelligence: The Promise and the Reality

For this blog post, I invited Barry Leskin, Director of our Thought Leader Series at Executive Networks, to be my guest contributor.

Dr. Jean Greaves of Talent Smart recently presented in our “Thought Leader” series and discussed her latest publication, “What Leaders are Doing in Emotional Intelligence Based on Recent Research.” I want to share some of the ideas she presented in this blog post.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is now widely accepted as a key characteristic of successful leaders.  In many cases its advocates claim it has greater impact on leader performance than does IQ. There is now little doubt about the value of EQ awareness for those in leadership positions. Key questions though are left unanswered:

  1. Where is it most effective?
  2. What is the relationship between EQ and IQ?
  3. How easy is it to change?
  4. How can concerns of EQ’s critics be addressed?

EQ encompasses 4 areas:  Self-Awareness, Self- Management, Social Awareness, Relationship

Management. It is one of the 4 factors that contribute to a leaders’ performance, the factors being IQ, EQ, Education, and skills/experience.

EQ is the most recent addition to these performance criteria.  It wasn’t always that way.  Behaviorists like BF Skinner were builders of a “rational” theory of performance improvement, e.g. treat behavior as a function of its consequences.  He advocated a cognitive approach to building leadership, with IQ a major part.  Emotions were not considered as contributors to performance.

That changed with the publication by Dan Goleman (1995) of his book, Emotional Intelligence, which successfully described EQ’s influence on performance, although he drew heavily on others’ research. His evidence, confirmed by numerous studies, shows successful leaders have statistically higher EQ scores than less successful leaders.  Work by Morgan McCall at the Center for Creative Leadership, documented in his book High Flyers, identified weak interpersonal skills as a primary reason high potential leaders derail career-wise…

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