Leading for Results requires the development of high levels of emotional intelligence

Effective school leaders skillfully navigate a web of complex relationships each day. (Photo: Dennis Sparks)

[E]motional intelligence (EI) accounts for 85 to 90 percent of the difference between outstanding leaders and their more average peers.

—Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee

Leaders rise and fall based on their ability to work productively with others to sustain a results-oriented focus over many months and years. Successful leaders consistently display high levels of “emotional intelligence”—that is, “how leaders handle themselves and their relationships,” as Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee explain it in Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead With Emotional Intelligence.

EI includes four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. As I scanned the list of competencies that comprise the domains I saw a small number whose absence, in my experience, are the primary causes of the vast majority of serious interpersonal problems: “reading one’s own emotions and recognizing their impact”; “keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control”; “displaying honesty and integrity”; “cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships”; “sensing others’ emotions and understanding their perspectives”; and “resolving disagreements.”

Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee explain how leaders can develop these competencies by engaging in “five discoveries”: (1) uncovering an ideal vision of yourself, (2) discovering who you really are, (3) developing an agenda for improving your abilities, (4) practicing new leadership skills, and (5) developing supportive and trusting relationships that make change possible. My next essay will elaborate on these steps.

Leading for Results “Six-Word Leadership Tool”:

Emotional Intelligence affects leaders’ ultimate success.

Strengthen your leadership practice by . . .

• scanning the competencies associated with EI’s four domains and identifying one or two which you believe cause a disproportionate share of leaders’ relationship problems. Compare the competencies you’ve selected with those I’ve suggested above.

• selecting an area you would like to strengthen by gaining clarity regarding the critical attributes of the skill and through persistent practice.

• developing a “six-word leadership tool” to summarize your learning or to express an action you will take as a result of this week’s posts. Please add your tool to the comment section of this blog and share it with one or more colleagues “back home.”

1 Response to “Leading for Results requires the development of high levels of emotional intelligence”


  1. 1 Chris February 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Manage relaionships through astute emotional awareness.


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