23 March 2015

Emotional Intelligence…Leading Self

In the post “TOXIC: Understanding The Dark Side of Leadership” the writer makes some great points about toxic leadership and highlights some of the important components of Emotional Intelligence (also known as EI or EQ).

Emotional intelligence is our aptitude for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions effectively in ourselves and those around us to include those we lead. An emotional competence is a learned capability based on emotional intelligence that contributes to effective performance in a leadership position (or any position for that matter). A competency of emotional intelligence is being self-aware and understanding ones impact on others. A lack of emotional intelligence can lead to toxic behavior and one reason toxic leaders burn down organizations is they do not realize the negative impact they have on others and the organizations they lead. Emotional Intelligence is leading self.

The world is a pretty complex place and leading in complex environments requires competence. There are no simple answers, and requires leaders to invest in and develop others, exercise judgment, as well as have empathy, experience and wisdom. Anyone who cannot lead themselves has no business leading others because the results of their impact will most likely be negative.

So what can you do with a leader who is lacking emotional intelligence? Give them feedback. If the individual is a peer then exercise peer leadership and attempt to influence their behavior in a positive way. If the person is a superior then “lead up” and attempt to influence higher in a positive way. For commanders if it is a subordinate leader then they have a duty to attempt to develop them and change their behavior. How do you develop a toxic leader and make them “less toxic”? It is not easy but it can be done. First they have to want to change. They need to be presented data showing they are toxic so they can “see” themselves. Once they have greater awareness of themselves and the negative impact of their behavior they can be coached to learn and develop the emotional intelligence capabilities of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill.

The article “Leadership That Gets Results” by Daniel Goleman offers a primer on emotional intelligence. The chart below is from the article.

We do a terrible job of detecting toxic leaders before they burn down the organization causing everyone to for the exits and leave due to the negative climate. Since leaders are only evaluated on short-term results (think 12–18 months in command) it is easy for a toxic leader to get results quickly and appear effective. With more emphasis on leader development methods such as coaching, mentoring, and performance counseling, toxic leaders can be identified earlier and developed through a learning and change process to be more emotionally competent leaders.

US Army Officer, West Point Faculty Member, Leader Developer, Iraq & Afghan Vet, Wounded Warrior, Team RWB, MBA, M.A, Learning Technologies, LEADERSHIP COUNTS!

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