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How Does Emotional Intelligence Affect Leadership?
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Recent studies indicates that EI—more than IQ, expertise, or any other single factor—is the best predictor of who will emerge as a leader. Leaders need basic intelligence and job-relevant knowledge. But IQ and technical skills are “threshold capabilities.” They’re necessary but not sufficient requirements for leadership. It’s the possession of the five components of emotional intelligence—self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills—that allows an individual to become a star performer.

Without EI, a person can have outstanding training, a highly analytical mind, a long-term vision, and an endless supply of terrific ideas but still not make a great leader, especially as individuals move up in an organization. The evidence indicates that the higher the rank of a person considered being a star performer, the more that EI capabilities surface as the reason for his or her effectiveness. Specifically, when star performers were compared with average ones in senior management positions, nearly 90 percent of the difference in their effectiveness was attributable to EI factors rather than basic intelligence.

Interestingly, it’s been pointed out that the maturing of Rudolph Giuliani’s leadership effectiveness closely followed the development of his emotional intelligence. For the better part of the eight years he was mayor of New York, Giuliani ruled with an iron fist. He talked tough, picked fights, and demanded results. The result was a city that was cleaner, safer, and better governed—but also more polarized. Critics called Giuliani a tin-eared tyrant. In the eyes of many, something important was missing from his leadership. That something, his critics acknowledged, emerged as the World Trade Center collapsed. It was a newfound compassion to complement his command: a mix of resolve, empathy, and inspiration that brought comfort to millions. It’s likely that Giuliani’s emotional capacities and compassion for others were stimulated by a series of personal hardships—including prostate cancer and the highly visible breakup of his marriage—both of which had taken place less than a year before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

EI has been shown to be positively related to job performance at all levels. But it appears to be especially relevant in jobs that demand a high degree of social interaction. And of course, that’s what leadership is all about. Great leaders demonstrate their EI by exhibiting all five of its key Components—self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, empathy and social skills. Although there has been some controversy about the role of EI in leadership, most of the research makes a case for concluding that EI is an essential element in leadership effectiveness. Learn more about effective leadership and management related matters only at LSBF.

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