We all know at least one highly intelligent, supremely skilled executive who quickly rises up the professional ladder, only to fail miserably as a leader. And we also know the story of the other executive with a comparatively low IQ and technical skills, but still leads the organisation to mammoth success.
This is also visible in the field of sports and the Indian cricket team is replete with stories of highly talented individuals performing miserably as leaders, while the average talented ones winning everything.
Such narratives prove that leadership is not all about skills, it’s way beyond them.
After all, the personal styles of great leaders vary: Some are subdued and analytical, while others like to scream their manifestos from the top of mountains. Leaders adapt their styles as per the need of the hour. For example in business, mergers need a sensitive negotiator at the helm, whereas many turnarounds require a more forceful authority.
But a common thread that ties all these leaders together is:
They all have a highly developed level of emotional intelligence also called Emotional Quotient or EQ. Cognitive skills such as big-picture thinking and long-term vision are particularly important. They do matter, but mainly as “threshold capabilities”. They are the entry-level requirements for executives. But research has found that emotional intelligence is a critical aspect of leadership. Even in the most stressful of situations great leaders will keep their composure.
Once again citing a cricketing example: Think of MS Dhoni’s demeanour under stress. While other players lose their cool and even get aggressive, he always remained composed. That is how he earned the nickname: Captain Cool. Likewise in business, individuals need to develop EQ to succeed as leaders.
Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.
When the ratio of technical skills, IQ, and EQ were recorded as a part of a study on the importance of emotional intelligence for achieving excellence, EQ proved to be twice as important as the others for jobs at all levels.
Renowned American behavioural psychologist Daniel Goleman’s analysis showed that emotional intelligence played an increasingly important role at the highest levels of the company, where differences in technical skills are of negligible importance. In other words, the higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more emotional intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for his or her effectiveness. When star performers were compared with average ones in senior leadership positions, nearly 90% of the difference in their profiles was attributed to EQ rather than cognitive abilities.
Emotional intelligence not only distinguishes outstanding leaders, but can also be linked to strong performance. The findings of the late David McClelland, the famous researcher in human and organisational behaviour, are a good example.
In his study of a global food and beverage company, McClelland found that when senior managers had a critical mass of emotional intelligence capabilities, their divisions outperformed yearly earnings goals by 20%. Meanwhile, division leaders without that critical mass underperformed by almost the same amount. McClelland’s findings, interestingly, held as true in the company’s US divisions as in its divisions in Asia and Europe.
We’re all born with certain levels of EQ. But we can develop these abilities. At Magnum Opus, we help individuals and organisations develop their Emotional Intelligence – critical for success. To learn more about Emotional Intelligence, contact us at email@example.com or call us at 011-42676768.