Leadership and Emotional Intelligence: The Secrets that Set Us Apart

My second daughter was born early Saturday, August 21, 2010, at 2:34 a.m.

Life can be an exquisite banquet.

So new to the world she is. It makes me wish she was a true to John Locke’s tabula rasa theory. In other words, her mind is a blank slate.

Modern biology and neurology say otherwise; we are preprogrammed and predisposed to be this or do that.

Doesn’t mean we will, but we could.

She could be a great leader someday. So could my first daughter.

Ah, the secrets that set us apart…

But without being grounded in a solid upbringing of strong morals and ethics within a fully developed empathetic emotionally intelligent society, then all hell could break lose.

As it does everyday.

Take the recent Knowledge@Wharton interview of four fellows titled The Complicated Lives of Today’s Leaders: Why Being at the Top Is Harder Than Ever.

Glowan Principal and Founder John Anderson and I had an interesting discussion about this last week. Our conclusions based on the interview?

  • Life is a super-collider of information and we’re the protons being smashed together repeatedly almost every moment of every day. Humans aren’t capable of managing that kind of information so it takes collective leadership to process and manage an organization, not an individual.
  • We are an ever-increasing interconnected world with a thankfully ever-increasing thirst for transparency.
  • Our addiction to urgency keeps focusing too much on the short-term post-crises — i.e., how do we clean them up and make things better for next time, quickly, instead of focusing on the long-term to prevent crises and leadership failures.
  • Globally, and particularly in the U.S., to much emphasis is still placed on the the “Lone Ranger” leader — they must protect us and lead us out of Egypt, but if things don’t work out, then they can take the fall.
  • A football team has 11 offensive players, 11 defensive players and 11 special teams players and a host of coaches but the quarterback gets almost all of the glory and all of the blame. And even though it’s our success model and part of the reason America has been so successful, we must transcend the dichotomy and find new ways of governing and conducting business.
  • The currency of our entire value system must move beyond money and really look at how we reward and incentivize people. And the choice of words in that statement alone means we have a long way to go.
  • The “better ethics” issue should be addressed much earlier in life — childhood — because the children grow up to be leaders, followers, and self-serving politicians and boards who create the pressure to “make the numbers” and increase the ROI regardless of ethics. Helping our children develop their emotional intelligence into adulthood is critical.

Emotionally intelligent leaders understand their emotions and the emotions of others and know to manage them, are more capable of facilitating collaborative advantage within groups (that leads to competitive advantage), can influence others with a higher level of integrity, are transparent in their decision-making, are accountable for their decision-making, are extremely empathetic and ethical and are great listeners, and the list goes on and on.

These are the secrets that set us apart that are fortunately no longer secrets.


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