Strategy. Innovation. Brand.

Do You Have the (Emotional) Intelligence to Lead?

Does he have enough emotional intelligence?

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’m going back to re-read some of the classics in the leadership literature to see if I can tease out new meanings. Daniel Goleman’s article, “What Makes A Leader?” in Harvard Business Review  (1998) is a case in point. We’ve all heard the term “emotional intelligence” but how many of us really remember what it means? How many of us know how to practice the art?

For many male leaders, I think “emotional intelligence” evokes something feminine. Perhaps it’s similar to “soft power” in diplomacy. It’s not a bad thing but is it really crucial? If my company gets in trouble, would I rather have soft power or a cadre of kick-ass sales people who can close deals and generate revenue?

If you read Hanna Rosin’s new book, The End of Men, you may think of emotional intelligence in a new light. Rosin argues that the new economy — largely services rather than manufacturing — requires skills such as flexibility, empathy, self-control, and persuasion. Rosin argues that women are better at these skills than men and that’s why they’re accelerating past men and taking over entire professions like accountancy, pharmacy, and forensic pathology.

Though Rosin doesn’t use the term “emotional intelligence”, the differentiating skills she describes map very closely to Goleman’s five elements of EI. These are: 1) Self-awareness – knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, and their impact on others; 2) Self-regulation — controlling disruptive emotions; 3) Motivation — being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement; 4) Empathy — considering other’s feelings; and, 5) Social skill — managing relationships to move people in desired directions.

Goleman says that these skills are essential to good leadership. Rosin says women are better at them than men are. If they’re both correct, we need to re-think at least some of our leadership development curricula. We also have a fair amount of re-training to do — perhaps mainly of male executives. Fortunately, Goleman provides exercises that will help anyone — male or female — practice and develop these skills.

You can learn more in the video.  You can find Goleman’s article here and Rosin’s book here.

One Response to Do You Have the (Emotional) Intelligence to Lead?

  • Although the video was void of any commentary on the book title that captured my attention — The End of Men — I can’t help but respond to the assertions attributed to the author regarding women being better at essential leadership skills than men.

    The book title certainly resonates with me, as I’ve commented many times over the last decade that “… at the rate things are going, women are gonna be running EVERYTHING in the not too distant future.” Recalling mention of the PESTLE scenario modeling technique in a previous video, many of the elements have — in my opinion — adversely impacted the boys growing up in the 80’s & 90’s. Exposure to increasingly pervasive media, flush with an entitlement context and steeped in narcissistic priorities, the boys seemed to have gone all-in on the toxic culture such that we’ve arrived at what should be a launch-point where far and away more females are solidly on track with rational self-awareness, career progress and profound contributions to society. Conversely, there seems to be corresponding deficit on the male side with the detractors shamelessly remaining ‘boys’, neglecting responsibility as they perpetually fail at school, relationships and life in general. Adding to the frustration is that were it not for words such as ‘dude’ and ‘like’ these young men would be incapable of verbally communicating!

    These numb [dope, alcohol or both], video-game-playing couch potatoes with an insatiable appetite for ‘hanging out’ [read that: ‘not working’] while continuing to mooch off mom and dad well into their late 20’s seems — in part — a sad cause and effect from the vast cultural change over the last couple decades [feminism, wealth obsession, celebrity, et-al] resulting in ‘lives without a life’, a sad caricature for so many of our young men today.

    As always, just my opinion … could be wrong. Can’t wait to read the book!

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