What all great leaders have in common: “a high degree of emotional intelligence”

Daniel Goleman

In an article written for Harvard Business Review (“What Makes a Leader?” June 1996), Daniel Goleman observes:

“I have found that that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities’; that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. But my research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but still won’t make a great leader.”

What specifically are the most important EI components?

1. Self-awareness: Knowing one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

2. Self-regulation: Controlling or redirecting what would otherwise be disruptive emotions and impulses, hurtful comments and behavior, etc.

3. Motivation: A passion to do what is right and do it right, to serve others, “to make a difference,” etc.

4. Empathy: Be sensitive to and respectful of others’ feelings (especially sensitivities), be an attentive listener and a loyal friend, etc.

5. Social Skill: Cultivate networks of contacts, nourish relationships, build c onsensuses, etc.

I agree with Goleman about the importance of EI, not only in leaders but in all others within an organization. The companies that are ranked among the most highly admired and best to work for each year by Fortune magazine are renowned for the highly developed EI in their people at all levels and in all areas.

That is probably the single most important reason why, year after year, they are also ranked among the most profitable in their respective industries.

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