Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

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Emotional Intelligence and Leadership – What makes a good leader?

According to Salovey and Mayer emotional intelligence is the ‘The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth’ (Salovey & Mayer et al, 2001, pg 232).

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, in Primal Leadership, describe ‘six styles of leading that have different effects on the emotions of the target followers’ (Goleman et al, 2004, pg 5).

The visionary leader moves people towards a shared vision, telling them the path but not how to get there. It is a system of motivating them to go forwards to achieve the goal. This style of leadership relates to emotional intelligence through predominantly motivation as it is a catalyst for promotion of personal growth.

The coaching leader connects the wants of the people to organisational goals through holding long conversations that reach beyond the workplace in order to help people find their strengths and weaknesses and tying these to their careers aspirations. This style promotes self-realisation by looking at personal qualities through assistance.

The affiliative leader develops and focuses on emotional needs rather than work needs. It is a style of creating connections with people and having a harmonious workplace. This style provides a positive environment for staff as it develops strong relationships for communal bonding in the workplace.

The democratic leader as the name suggests delegates through valuable inputs and commitment via participation, listening to both the bad and the good news. The ability to take a neutral stance and assess multiple situations allows a more rigid understanding and controlling use of emotions in the workplace.

The pace-setting leader challenges people with goals and the expectation of excellence. This style has the ability to identify performance of the workforce and re-adjust the demand for an improvement based on results. This style often relies on autonomy of the individual to complete tasks with little guidance in an attempt to promote self-management and personal growth.

The commanding leader exemplifies himself through direction. This style leads to a commanding, powerful stance with the expectation of full compliance, with or without agreement. This style is provocative and thus an emotional self-control is needed or success.

Research conducted by different scholars, including the more recent confirmation by Bradberry and Greaves (2005), stating that emotional intelligence can indeed be learnt. Both Goleman and Bradberry & Greaves argue that emotional intelligence can especially be taught successfully to children. ‘Children can be aware of their emotions and train to control them appropriately’ (Bradberry and Greaves, 2005).

The research further concludes that environments such as schools have the opportunity to revert emotional illiteracy through disciplinarian actions to further add attributes such as self-awareness and self-control.

Furthermore, cognitive scientist Delphine Nelis published Personality and Individual Differences which highlighted some 'promising research through testing on adults as to whether emotional intelligence can be taught'. This has solidified the case and the past research attributing to the fact that training can improve emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence has been growing in importance in professional success, with emphasis in the corporate world. Due to the holistic application of emotional intelligence of everyday life giving a more complete and enriched fulfilment of life; emotional intelligence paves way for success in leadership roles. As suggested by American psychologist Daniel Goleman, leaders who have the key skills attributed in emotional intelligence such as, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, are more probable to provide a successful outcome...
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