Is Emotional Intelligence Anything New?


So you walk into your office and there is a yellow post-it slip that informs you to see the boss as soon as possible. You make your way around your colleagues as their stares increase a sense of anxiety. Your heart begins to pulse faster and you even begin to perspire. You knock in the door and the executive offers you a seat across his desk. Before you sit in the leather cushioned chair that overlooks the downtown skyline, you hear surprising news, “Good morning Steve. I wanted to be the first to congratulate you on a number of successful years at the company. The executive board has decided to open a new product line in a new market. After careful consideration, we have decided to offer you the opportunity to lead this expansion. If you are willing to take on this new responsibility, we are going to send you to corporate headquarters for a three week intensive leadership boot-camp.”

After the meeting, you head down to the lobby and outside to take in the joyful news. Taking your cell phone out, you call your wife to share the good news. It just so happens the new position includes a better salary which will go towards enrolling your three children into the parish school and a move to Los Angeles. Your wife responds that she looks forward to moving to more sunshine and it clicks, “We will be in the archdiocese of Archbishop Gomez!” which gives you even more comfort and gladness.

Upon accepting the position, the human resource manager hands you a packet that goes over the leadership boot-camp. The first week covers something that sounds daunting and a little strange, “Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace.”

“Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”  Daniel Goleman

According to Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence really sounds like development in the virtues. He speaks of five basic initiatives that surround emotional intelligence:  self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. These are the basic ingredients that separate a leader from a very good manager in the eyes of the emotional recon team.

Self-awareness is basically traditional humility. It is knowing who you really are, your true self. This means that you have knowledge of personal strengths and weaknesses, know when to ask for help, and are capable of saying you are wrong. Also important is accountability to another person, somebody that will keep you facing true North.

Self-regulation boils down to being trustworthy and alignment. The followers must be able to trust you as a leader. This means you respect their name by avoiding gossip and not spreading true but unsavory stories. It also reflects how well you mirror your core beliefs in your actions.

Motivation is like courage. Are you willing to give 110% even when the times get rough? Do you allow your projects to stretch your intelligence and skills? Can you face defeat and be grateful that you learned much even though you lost? Flexing the courage muscle means not cowering when difficulties emerge.

Empathy is the goal of leaders which is to serve and cooperate with others. A leader by definition at least has followers. Most followers will avoid a selfish person. He gives of himself unselfishly for the good of the other. He can lead others if he can cooperate. Of course, this requires the leader to be involved in the life of his followers.

Social skill is similar to being respectful and tolerant with an addition of knowledge. A leader must be able to accept and thrive in changing circumstances. Imagine a sea captain being bombarded by high wind; he has to know how to navigate the ship. Have you ever worked for a boss that could not work with you because you held different beliefs? The leader is able to include others for a good and common cause and drawing out their strengths even when they have personal, political, sexual, or religious differences.

As you can see, emotional intelligence is not rocket science, in fact we probably learned much of it just growing up in a family. Similar to other areas in life, we sometimes miss the easy things and try to make things more complicated than they really are.


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