The Model ‘Emotional Intelligence’ Leader
“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.”
Bill Gates is the model emotional intelligence (EQ) leader, according to Dr. Steven J. Stein in his book “The EQ Leader: Instilling Passion, Creating Shared Goals, and Building Meaningful Organizations through Emotional Intelligence” (2017).
Like many of today’s successful leaders, Gates was, and remains, more concerned with success, than with what people might think of him, Dr. Stein writes. Gates is driven by the future and opportunities, not by the past, nor his ego. Learning from the past, Dr. Stein says, is valuable, but preserving it can waste energy. Worrying about looking good, being consistent, or keeping the status quo were yesterday’s virtues, but today’s “kiss of death.” Successful leaders, like Gates, put their egos behind their missions, move forward with the times, and are not afraid to alter their positions as necessary.
They do not keep their ship in the port forever.
Emotional intelligence has been defined as the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions, so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to regulate emotions, so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
Studying that definition and accepting that we all have emotions, which impact our behavior, how could anyone refute the importance of emotional awareness and management in the workplace to foster healthy relationships and dynamics and improve co-worker satisfaction? Many of us are, unfortunately, all too familiar with the opposite – how detrimental toxic team leaders or co-workers can be. Therefore, the importance of EQ seems to be almost common sense, explaining why there is an emergence of data and research exploding onto the scene proving this exact point.
Marisa Hohaia in the World Economic Forum (September 2019) provides us with a list of the top 10 capabilities that globally oriented team leaders and team members will need in order to thrive in 2020:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgment and decision reaching
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
What is really interesting about this list, beyond the obvious, emotional intelligence actually underpins all of the others on the list. For instance, our people leadership and negotiation skills and our ability to collaborate with others both depend largely in part on our emotional awareness, leadership, and reasoning capabilities. She argues, then, that emotional intelligence is the most important capability to have and develop within the workplace – today and tomorrow.
According to Dr. Stein, in order to understand ourselves, we must develop the following four pillars of successful team leadership and membership:
- Makes us self-aware and genuine
- Makes us mission-driven and focused on results
- Makes us lead with our hearts, not just our heads
- Makes us focus on the long term
- Team Leader Mentoring:
- Helps us develop optimal relationships
- Promotes self-discovery
- Focuses on reinforcing strengths
- Builds upon empathy in order to resolve challenges
- Helps us create a purpose statement
- Helps us explain our purpose
- Helps us set goals
- Helps us establish the steps for getting there
- Shows us how to create a strategic vision
- Provides us with the means to develop a strong client focus
- Ensures a climate of trust
- Promotes loyalty towards doing what is right for our company and our clients
Dr. Stein concludes by stating that understanding one’s EQ and “entrepreneurial preferences can be a useful endeavor for anybody looking to understand how to leverage his or her unique strengths, and focus our development in our fast-paced world….”
Certainly, Gates did exactly that.
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Vice President Emeritus for Learning Technologies Donald Smith, Ed.D, CPT, headed ME&A programs in learning, leadership, and performance enhancement. He stayed with the firm in his retirement, bringing more than 65 years of experience as a coach, designer, facilitator, evaluator, manager, educator, and organizational change architect in more than 50 countries.