Emotional Intelligence Matters
After one of our recent Leadership workshops, I found myself participating in a rather thought provoking discussion around how much power any leadership position in a business should be allowed to have. Although some of the participants didn’t believe that any single individual should be allowed too much power, because power corrupts, my view was slightly different – that a leader should be allocated a level of power in relation to their level of emotional intelligence . In my view the problem is not having too much power, but rather not honouring the responsibility that comes with great power. I believe that if you are confident enough in your own skin and mature enough to know that you do not have to know it all and if you can acknowledge that you do not know it all, you can encourage, welcome and accept being questioned and challenged without reacting defensively. This should sufficiently keep you in check and protect you from ever falling into the trap of abusing your power or authority.
I have seen people appointed in critical leadership positions, who clearly know all the right words to say – things like “I welcome criticism and being challenged”, but the first time people approaches them with a different point of view, they immediately shoot it down without a second thought and often do not even realize that such an action or response (in direct contradiction with their words) causes their team members to perceive them as unapproachable. Have you ever (whether knowingly or unknowingly) fallen into that trap?
A true leader can allow their decisions and actions to be questioned and challenged, they can listen to the feedback they receive and give it honest consideration, they can admit their mistakes, apologize for them and both change their minds and learn from the experience.
Leadership is in essence a never ending journey of personal development and without a high level of emotional intelligence you simply will not be able to unleash your full potential as a leader. A high level of emotional intelligence also plays an important role in your leadership effectiveness as delegator, communicator and change agent.
Acknowledging the importance of emotional intelligence is only the first step. The more important question is how you as a leader can continue to work on your level of emotional intelligence and / or support leaders in your organization to work on theirs? Effective coaching and mentorship, leadership development courses and thought provoking reading material will all play a role, but these need to be complimented by obtaining honest feedback from your team on a regular basis.
A truly effective, sustainable and healthy organization should never allow any individual (no matter their leadership position) within the business to abuse their power and authority without it coming to light quickly and being dealt with swiftly. Great organizations understand that such behaviour can cripple and ultimately destroy a healthy organizational culture and even the best of businesses. A final question: how fool proof and protected are yours?