In the not-so-distant past, business was conducted in an emotion-free environment. Executives were as likely to display emotion as they were to tap dance on the roof of the CEO’s car. Now, the emotional nature of leadership – and of day-to-day working life – is routinely acknowledged.
Psychologist and former New York Times journalist Daniel Goleman has advocated the need for leaders to be emotionally intelligent (EI). IQ alone is not enough. Managers need to understand and manage their own emotions and relationships to be effective leaders.
Goleman’s ideas on emotional intelligence build on the work of David McClelland, an American psychologist who helped establish competencies modeling and was Goleman’s mentor at Harvard, and Howard Gardner, the developmental psychologist and professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, who developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences.
In Primal Leadership Goleman advocates cultivating emotionally intelligent leaders. Goleman and co-authors Richard E. Boyatzis and Annie McKee explain the four domains of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management – and how they give rise to different styles of leadership. It is a leadership repertoire leaders can master and use to great effect.
Self-knowledge is a recurrent theme talking to leaders. ‘Know yourself, be yourself, look after yourself ’ is central. ‘You can’t be yourself unless you know yourself, and you can’t sustain it, unless you look after yourself,’ advises Dame Mary Marsh.
Echoing these sentiments is the Tuck Business School’s Syd Finkelstein. ‘I talk about self-awareness,’ he says. ‘Working in a consulting capacity with a CEO or senior executive, the extent to which they’re self-aware is really remarkable; it comes out in a conversation so often. To me it’s really one of the most powerful leadership capabilities. That’s how I label it, to make it more practical to people, because self-aware- ness is a very touchy-feely type of idea once you get right down to it. But I call it a leadership capability.
‘The more anyone knows about how they think, how they behave, their own biases, the less likely they are to become slaves to that part of the brain where they just do what gut instinct tells them to do. That can get you in a lot of trouble, so self-awareness is a big differentiator, think again.’
Extract from page 135 of 'What we mean when we talk about leadership'