The business community has embraced the concept of emotional intelligence and its importance ever since Daniel Goleman’s best-selling book, Working with Emotional Intelligence (1998). But the challenge that lies ahead is to demonstrate that such competencies can be acquired, and that they significantly impact performance.

Up to 90% of the difference between outstanding and average leaders is linked to emotional intelligence. “EI” is two times as important as IQ and technical expertise combined, and is four times as important in terms of overall success.

Yet many leaders continue to be reluctant to address anything “emotional” when it comes to business, even when the word “intelligence” is tacked on behind it.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your own feelings and those of others, and the ability to motivate yourself and others, as well as to manage your own emotions and those of others. Essentially, there are four competencies:

  1. Understanding yourself, or self-awareness
  2. Managing yourself, or self-management
  3. Understanding others, or social awareness
  4. Managing others, or social skills

Emotional intelligence increases when people commit themselves to building practical competencies in the context of every day situations. Nothing can be more powerful than developing empathy skills during everyday conversations on the job.

Empathy starts with self-awareness, in that understanding your own emotions is essential to understanding the feelings of others. It is crucial to leading others.

Lack of empathy is a primary cause of interpersonal difficulties that lead to poor performance, executive derailment, and problems with customer relationships.

Empathy is poorly understood by those who need it most. Many hard-driving managers lack a propensity for empathy because they assume it’s for more “touchy-feely” types. Some very intelligent leaders are walking around blindly using only their powers of reasoning and wondering why everyone doesn’t see things their way.

Research by the Center for Creative Leadership has found that the primary causes of derailment in executives involve deficits in emotional competence, and in particular, these three primary ones:

  1. Difficulty in handling change
  2. Not being able to work well as a team
  3. Poor interpersonal relations

Without an adequate capacity to understand the other’s point of view, managers lack sufficient flexibility for change, cannot work well with team collaboration, and cannot relate well with the very people that affect the results they are trying to achieve.

How have you been affected by a leader who undertands EMPATHY?

Next post – Deeper understanding of Empathy