Don’t be emotionally dumb: Lessons in leadership

Rather than IQ, emotional intelligence (EQ) is what often separates great leaders, says Wisdom at Work's Mel Rowsell.

Imagine that you have two types of leaders. One who we imagine Barack Obama to be like. He listens to his people, shows that he respects them, and makes them feel empowered. In return they feel engaged with him and his vision and are ready to work hard.

The other leader is who we imagine Trump to be like. He is disrespectful. Maybe he’s unpredictable. Talking to him is like talking to a brick wall. You get the feeling that he isn't listening to you - it's his way or the highway. You feel that you can't make any decisions. As a result, people end up leaving and those that stay are disengaged and disoriented. In short, it feels hopeless.

How we imagine these leaders to operate are at two extremes, but what they clearly illustrate is someone who has Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and someone who is unfortunately lacking. One who knows himself and how to get the best of the team and one who doesn't.

When this idea of EQ first hit the scene in the 1990s, it answered a perplexing question. Why did people with average IQs often outperform those with high IQs in terms of leadership success?

After decades of research it is now known that this missing link is EQ - it's the factor that sets high performing leaders apart. In fact, in a widespread study carried out by TalentSmart - across many people, businesses and industries - have shown that 90 percent of the top performers also have high EQ.  Higher EQ makes for better business. In a 2003 study by Langhorn in the UK they found that when business units were led by managers with high EQ, profit growth was seven percentage points higher than average over the same period.

And yes, an emotionally dumb leader has the opposite effect on business success. From disengaged people and low productivity to high staff turnover and stifled business growth.

So, what is EQ and how do you get more of it?

Emotional Intelligence includes four key skills. The first two are to do with yourself. They are the ability to be self aware and manage yourself. This is about knowing what your emotions are up to and managing them. The other two are about your interaction with others. These are social awareness and and relationship management. In basic terms, this is picking up on the emotional cues of others and using these to manage relationships and interactions well .

The great news that EQ can be learned and improved through practice. You might not be as lacking in EQ as we imagine Trump to be, but you could do with being more like we imagine Obama to be. Imagine the impact that would have on your business success!

Mel Rowsell from Wisdom at Work is a master practitioner in EQ and will be teaching core skills at an Express Breakfast for business leaders and HR professionals. She is also running an Intensive Workshop which expands on the breakfast and teaches you how to practically apply these skills. Click on the links to find out more.