Emotional Intelligence & Leadership

I thought of you when I read this quote from “Search Inside Yourself: Increase Productivity, Creativity and Happiness [ePub edition]” by Chade-Meng Tan, Daniel Goleman, Jon Kabat-Zinn –

“Benefits of Emotional Intelligence There is an important question that my friends in the training business call the so-what? question, as in, “Yes, very nice, but what can emotional intelligence do for me?”In the context of the work environment, emotional intelligence enables three important skill sets: stellar work performance, outstanding leadership, and the ability to create the conditions for happiness. Stellar Work Performance The first thing emotional intelligence enables is stellar work performance. Studies have shown that emotional competencies are twice as important in contributing to excellence as pure intellect and expertise. 3 A study by Martin Seligman, considered the father of modern positive psychology and the creator of the idea of learned optimism, showed that insurance agents who are optimists outsell their pessimist counterparts by 8 percent in their first year and 31 percent in their second year. 4 This was not surprising to me. After all, there are many jobs such as those in sales and customer service in which emotional competencies obviously make a big difference. We already know that intuitively. What surprised me was the report that this is true even for individual contributors in the tech sector, namely engineers like me whom you might expect to succeed purely on intellectual prowess. According to a study, the top six competencies that distinguish star performers from average performers in the tech sector are (in this order): 1. Strong achievement drive and high achievement standards 2. Ability to influence 3. Conceptual thinking 4. Analytical ability 5. Initiative in taking on challenges 6. Self-confidence5 Of the top six, only two (conceptual thinking and analytical ability) are purely intellectual competencies. The other four, including the top two, are emotional competencies. Being strong in emotional intelligence can help everyone become outstanding at work, even engineers. Outstanding Leadership Emotional intelligence makes people better leaders. Most of us understand it intuitively based on our day-to-day experience interacting with those whom we lead and those who lead us. There are also studies that back up our intuition with scientific evidence. For example, Goleman reported an analysis that shows emotional competencies to make up to 80 to 100 percent of the distinguishing competencies of outstanding leaders. 6 This is illustrated by the story of Gerald Grinstein, a CEO who had to go through the painful process of cutting costs. Grinstein was tough, but being a virtuoso at interpersonal skills, he earned the cooperation of his employees and managed to keep their loyalty and spirits high while turning around their once-ailing company, despite having to make very tough decisions. In fact, Grinstein performed his magic not once but twice, once as CEO of Western Airlines and again as CEO of Delta. When Grinstein took over Delta amid a crisis, he immediately went about restoring lines of communication and trust within the company. He understood the importance of creating a positive work environment and, using extraordinary leadership skills (emotional intelligence), he turned a toxic work environment into a more family-like atmosphere. Once again, I did not find any of this surprising, because we already intuitively understand the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. What I found surprising was this is true even in the U.S. Navy. Another study by leadership expert Wallace Bachman showed that the most effective U.S. Navy commanders are “more positive and outgoing, more emotionally expressive and dramatic, warmer and more sociable (including smiling more), friendlier and more democratic, more cooperative, more likable and ‘fun to be with,’more appreciative and trustful, and even gentler than those who were merely average.”7 When I think of military leadership, I think of tough-as-nails people barking orders and expecting to be obeyed, so it is fascinating to me that even in a military environment, what distinguishes the best leaders from the merely average ones is emotional intelligence. The best military commanders are basically nice people who are fun to be with. Funny enough, the title of the Bachman study was “Nice Guys Finish First.”The Ability to Create the Conditions for Happiness Perhaps most importantly, emotional intelligence enables the skills that help us create conditions for our own sustainable happiness. Matthieu Ricard defines happiness as “a deep sense of flourishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind . . . not a mere pleasurable feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a mood, but an optimal state of being.”8 And that optimal state of being is “a profound emotional balance struck by a subtle understanding of how the mind functions.”In Matthieu’s experience, happiness is a skill that can be trained. That training begins with deep insight into mind, emotion, and our experience of phenomena, which then facilitates practices that maximize our inner well-being at a deep level, ultimately creating sustainable happiness and compassion. My own experience is similar to Matthieu’s. When I was young, I was naturally very unhappy. If nothing good happened, then by default, I was unhappy. Right now, it is the reverse: if nothing bad happens, then by default, I am happy. I have become so naturally jolly that it even became part of my job title at Google: jolly good fellow. We all have a set point of happiness that we return to whenever the euphoria of a pleasant experience or the sting of an unpleasant experience fades out. Many of us assume this set point to be static, but my personal experience and that of many others like Matthieu suggest this set point to be movable with deliberate training. Happily, the skills that help us cultivate emotional intelligence also help us identify and develop the inner factors that contribute to our deep sense of well-being. The same things that build emotional intelligence will also help us create conditions for our own happiness. Therefore, happiness may be an unavoidable side effect of cultivating emotional intelligence. Other side effects may include resilience, optimism, and kindness.”

Start reading this book for free: http://amzn.to/1E46rJO

Mohan Sundaram
email: Mohan.Sundaram.73@gmail.com
Skype: Mohan.Sundaram.73@live.com
what’s ap: +918790171132

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