Only now is the notion of â€˜emotional intelligenceâ€™ becoming widely understood. For the leaders of the future, it is likely to be as important as a high IQ.
In his ground-breaking 1996 book, â€œEmotional Intelligence,â€ the American psychologist Daniel Goleman explored the issue of personal and professional effectiveness. He argued that in a business world too often obsessed by cold analysis, the emotional climate is more important to the success of a leader than previously recognized.
At senior levels, â€˜emotional intelligenceâ€™ rather than â€˜rational intelligenceâ€™ marks out the true leader: â€œThe qualities of leadership and the quality of the heart are largely the same.â€ This may explain why someone like Branson, who twice failed his elementary mathematics exam, can make a better leader than someone with a degree from Harvard Business School. Bransonâ€™s â€˜emotional intelligenceâ€™ â€“ his â€˜people radarâ€™ â€“ is more keenly developed.
According to Goleman, studies of outstanding performers in organizations show that about two thirds of the abilities that set star performers apart in the leadership stakes are based on emotional intelligence. Only a third of the skills that matter relate to raw intelligence (as measured by IQ) and technical expertise.
â€œOur emotions are hardwired into our being,â€ Goleman explained. â€œThe very architecture of the brain gives feelings priority over thought.â€ There is a sign in Harvardâ€™s rat lab that says: â€œRats under carefully controlled conditions will do any damned thing they please.â€ The same is true of human beings. Leaders ignore emotions at their perils.
Most important of all, the role of leaders in developing the next generation has too often been neglected. If we are to grow as a society, this must be the priority for the future. As Sir Adrian Cadbury, the former Head of Cadbury Schweppes, has observed: â€œGood leaders grow people, bad leaders stunt them; good leaders serve their followers, bad leaders enslave themâ€
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