In many organization’s leadership development plans, whether formal or informal, a Harvard Business review article on why leadership development fails states that planning often selects people with the “right” skills or knowledge, and designs leadership development training programs to develop those competencies believing that real change will follow.
This widely accepted thinking about organizational change through a collection of individual leaders furthering their leadership development with skills and knowledge training fails to acknowledge that an organization is a system of behaviours and culture that if not supported and modeled from the top, no amount of skills or knowledge training will succeed at creating lasting change (Harvard Business Review article).
Daniel Goleman, a leader and expert in the field of emotional intelligence states that knowledge and skills are a threshold for getting the job and when comparing leaders with roughly the same level of knowledge and skills, those that rise to the top and make the most difference in leadership are leaders with healthy emotional intelligence or ‘soft skills.
Emotional Intelligence, as defined in “The EQ Edge” quoting MHS, is “a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way”.
Here at Summit, in our virtual and live versions of our Emotional Intelligence for High Performance workshop, we ask participants to think of a great leader that they have worked with or for and to consider the top 3 qualities that made them a great leader. Every single time we do this exercise, the majority of answers fall under the emotional or social interpersonal skills rather than the knowledge or skills categories. Qualities like “calm under pressure”, “clear communicator of expectations”, and “relational” are just a few examples of emotional intelligence competencies that stand out for people when they think of a great leader.
Goleman is quoted as saying, “CEO’s are hired for their intellect and business expertise – and fired for a lack of emotional intelligence”. If you grow your awareness of your emotional intelligence competencies and how those competencies are doing under the pressure or stress in this Covid-19 climate, you might discover that there are some action steps you can take immediately to continue your leadership development even now. Now is a time like no other in our generation where we need to be most alert to where we need to build support and be deliberate about how we take our leadership development to the next level.
As Covid-19 has greatly changed the landscape of our work, the next 3 blog posts will consider what I think are the most critical Emotional Intelligence skills that for many are being tested right now.