Yes, it is the latest fad and yes, you do need to pay attention, not least because you will need to be able to talk about this at dinner parties and when meeting consultants.
Emotional intelligence, as opposed to IQ, is a theory that has been developed by Daniel Goleman, an American management analyst. He believes that the single most important attribute of a leader, whether a chief executive or a team leader, is creating and driving positive emotions in others. His argument, put simply: "It is the moods and behaviours of leaders, rather than their knowledge that has the most impact on how people work and how therefore you can increase productivity."
He would argue that the leader's mood is contagious and can inspire or debilitate. The key aspects are:
- Self-awareness. Observing yourself and recognising how your actions and behaviours affect others.
- Managing emotions. Handling feelings so that they are appropriate, realising what is behind a feeling and finding ways to handle fears and anxieties.
- Motivating oneself. Channelling emotions in the service of a goal, emotional self-control and delaying gratification.
- Empathy. Sensitivity to others' feelings and concerns and taking their perspective, and appreciating the differences in how people feel about things.
- Handling relationships. Managing emotions and stress in others, and social and negotiation skills.
I believe it is particularly important that leaders know their strengths and weak-nesses. This is something that you can work on yourself or with others.
For example, the use of 3600 appraisal tools are a great way of getting to know how your staff and colleagues see you. Such tools will commonly ask a series of questions, which deal with people's perceptions of your strengths and your "softer
skills in motivation and handling people.
The results from such an appraisal can be used to guide behaviour and help you work on it. Clearly, we each have our own styles and behaviours and, as we grow older, these are less amenable to modification. And why should they be. You can't change from sinner to saint in an instant but it is important to judge and access our impact on others so that we can lead better.