Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Leadership Skills & Emotional Intelligence

How is emotional intelligence related to the specific behaviors we associate with leadership effectiveness?

Findings: Higher levels of emotional intelligence are associated with better performance in the following areas:

􀂉 Participative Management
􀂉 Putting People at Ease
􀂉 Self-Awareness
􀂉 Balance Between Personal Life and Work
􀂉 Straightforwardness and Composure
􀂉 Building and Mending Relationships
􀂉 Doing Whatever it Takes
􀂉 Decisiveness
􀂉 Confronting Problem Employees
􀂉 Change Management

Participative Management reflects the importance of getting buy-in at the beginning of an initiative. It is an extremely important relationship-building skill in today’s management
climate in which organizations value interdependency within and between groups.

Putting People at Ease gets at the heart of making others relaxed and comfortable in your
presence. From the perspective of direct reports, putting people at ease was related to impulse
control, which is defined as the ability to resist or delay the impulse to act.

Self-Awareness describes those managers who have an accurate understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

Balance Between Personal Life and Work measures the degree to which work and personal
life activities are prioritized so that neither is neglected. High ratings from bosses on these
behaviors were associated with the emotional intelligence measures of social responsibility,
impulse control, and empathy.

Straightforwardness and Composure, which refers to the skill of remaining calm in a crisis and
recovering from mistakes, is related to several emotional intelligence measures. Not
surprisingly, ratings from bosses, peers, and direct reports on this scale are related to impulse

Building and Mending Relationships is the ability to develop and maintain working relationships with various internal and external parties. Ratings from bosses on this scale were
related to only one measure of emotional intelligence: impulse control.

Boss ratings on Doing Whatever It Takes, which has to do with persevering in the face of
obstacles as well as taking charge and standing alone when necessary were related to two of the
emotional intelligence scales: independence and assertiveness. People who are high on
independence tend to be self-reliant and autonomous.

Direct report ratings of Decisiveness are related to assessments of independence. Decisiveness
has to do with a preference for quick and approximate actions over slow and approximate
ones. Independence has to do with the ability to be self-directed and self-controlled in one’s

Another interesting relationship has to do with peer ratings of Confronting Problem
Employees, the degree to which a manager acts decisively and fairly when dealing with problem
employees, and the emotional intelligence measure of assertiveness. Assertive people are
able to express their beliefs and feelings in a nondestructive manner.

Change Management is the final Benchmarks scale to be connected with emotional intelligence.
This skill has to do with the effectiveness of the strategies used to facilitate change initiatives.

Conclusions: Leadership abilities vary according to rater perspective and level of emotional
intelligence. In general, co-workers seem to appreciate managers’ abilities to control their
impulses and anger, to withstand adverse events and stressful situations, to be happy with life, and to be a cooperative member of the group. These leaders are more likely to be seen as participative, self-aware, composed, and balanced. Is the need to develop emotional
intelligence abilities related to derailment behaviors? Findings: In his 1998 book, Working With Emotional Intelligence, Donald Goleman suggests that some of the reasons why people derail stem from a lack of emotional intelligence. Our research indicates the absence of emotional
intelligence is related to career derailment. Low emotional intelligence scores are related to:

􀂉 Problems with Interpersonal Relationships
􀂉 Difficulty Changing or Adapting

Ratings on Problems with Interpersonal Relationships from all co-workers—bosses, peers,
and direct reports—were associated with low scores on impulse control.

So what are your thoughts on this provoking subject? Email me at

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