The emotional leader

Ii you are a regular to this blog you will know I went to see Nigel Kennedy recently.  Have a look at this article which interviews the orchestra conductor Marin Alsop, who conducted the Kennedy concert at the Proms recently.

EQ and Orchestras

Emotional intelligence is a double edged sword in business.  Yes, leaders need to tune into the people they lead and understand their motivations, concerns and so on.  At the extreme, the emotionally intelligent leader is paralysed by feedback and cannot make tough decisions. So, where do you stand on the debate?  Is it better to be hard headed in business or sensitive to your stakeholders?  I know that’s an annoying journalistic styled ‘A or B’ type question for a hugely complex issue, so here’s a fence sitting position 🙂  Or is there a middle ground?

POSTSCRIPT – I’ve been mightily impressed by  the quality of the debate on this blog so far and have decided to add the first two comments to the blog itself.  Grateful thanks to recent star of University Challenge Brian Clegg and Dr Reg Butterfield:

I think as a society we have serious problems if we really think ‘EQ is more important than IQ in this day and age.’ (BTW I skip over the fact that IQ is an almost meaningless number, I mean, rather, the intelligence it is supposed to measure.) In a technological society, that’s a recipe for collapse. ‘Hey, I don’t know how this machinery stuff works, but I sure empathise with it,’ will not fix your car/internet/central heating.

Of course the real answer is that both are important for different reasons. EQ is important to understand people and get the best out of them, IQ is important to understand the world and to keep technology running. In survival terms, EQ is valuable if the threat comes from other people, IQ if the threat comes from anything else. But going on all you see/hear in the news, I think in the West we’re doing just fine on EQ overall and could do with a good slug of IQ to balance it up.

Brian Clegg

***********

Most good managers have a healthy dose of narcissism or they would not have the self-confidence that a great leader or manager needs to be successful in the midst of chaos or adverse business conditions. It can provide the source of internal confidence that allows a leader to stand strong behind decisions and maintain a vision for the group in spite of challenges along the way.

However, I believe that it is the EQ element that prevents them from becoming too much of a controller and separates them from those who are ill. People who have a narcissistic personality illness normally exhibit at least five of the following traits:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement
  • Is exploitative of others
  • Lacks empathy
  • Is often envious of others
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes

I have worked with many managers who border on such an illness and yet were perceived to be successful by their CEOs or shareholders. These people tend to ignore feedback, are unable to let go of control, often believe that technical skills are more important than one’s leadership skills and so on. They also tend to undermine their own people because they cannot stay out of the low-level details of the team’s daily tasks.

EQ has been around forever and business people have known about it for many years thanks to the work of Daniel Goleman. If managers are able to harness their narcissistic tendencies and apply the following traits from EQ, then I believe that we have a good balance between the debate about EQ and the narcissistic approach to leadership and management:

  • Recognise what’s going on for oneself (one’s moods, feelings, thoughts, and reactions)
  • Read what’s going on for others (their moods, feelings, thoughts, situation, and reactions)
  • Respond in a way that is most appropriate, based on the environment and the people in it

By the way, isn’t that what a good musician does?  [Author comment – Yes, as with good leaders]

If we professionals use ‘client-centred consultancy skills’ combined with a ‘process consultancy’ approach (Edgar Schein) we can help leaders and managers achieve this balance.

Dr Reg Butterfield

******************************************

About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk or +44 (0) 7725 927585.  Check out our online Business and Music programme for FREE via The Music of Business Online.

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4 responses to “The emotional leader

  1. Most good managers have a healthy dose of narcissism or they would not have the self-confidence that a great leader or manager needs to be successful in the midst of chaos or adverse business conditions. It can provide the source of internal confidence that allows a leader to stand strong behind decisions and maintain a vision for the group in spite of challenges along the way.

    However, I believe that it is the EQ element that prevents them from becoming too much of a controller and separates them from those who are ill. People who have a narcissistic personality illness normally exhibit at least five of the following traits:

    • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
    • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique
    • Requires excessive admiration
    • Has a very strong sense of entitlement
    • Is exploitative of others
    • Lacks empathy
    • Is often envious of others
    • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

    I have worked with many managers who border on such an illness and yet were perceived to be successful by their CEOs or shareholders. These people tend to ignore feedback, are unable to let go of control, often believe that technical skills are more important than one’s leadership skills and so on. They also tend to undermine their own people because they cannot stay out of the low-level details of the team’s daily tasks.

    EQ has been around forever and business people have known about it for many years thanks to the work of Daniel Goleman. If managers are able to harness their narcissistic tendencies and apply the following traits from EQ, then I believe that we have a good balance between the debate about EQ and the narcissistic approach to leadership and management:
    • recognise what’s going on for oneself (one’s moods, feelings, thoughts, and reactions)
    • read what’s going on for others (their moods, feelings, thoughts, situation, and reactions)
    • respond in a way that is most appropriate, based on the environment and the people in it.

    By the way, isn’t that what a good musician does?

    If we professionals use ‘client-centred consultancy skills’ combined with a ‘process consultancy’ approach (Schein E.) we can help leaders and managers achieve this balance.

    Like

    • Wow, two thoughtful and detailed comments straight off today – I guess this subject is contentious – indeed all good musicians are masters on the inside and the outside. I like very much your notion that EQ is the balancing factor that stops leaders becoming tyrants – I’d not seen it like that – thanks as always Reg.

      Like

  2. I think as a society we have serious problems if we really think ‘EQ is more important than IQ in this day and age.’ (BTW I skip over the fact that IQ is an almost meaningless number, I mean, rather, the intelligence it is supposed to measure.) In a technological society, that’s a recipe for collapse. ‘Hey, I don’t know how this machinery stuff works, but I sure empathise with it,’ will not fix your car/internet/central heating.

    Of course the real answer is that both are important for different reasons. EQ is important to understand people and get the best out of them, IQ is important to understand the world and to keep technology running. In survival terms, EQ is valuable if the threat comes from other people, IQ if the threat comes from anything else. But going on all you see/hear in the news, I think in the West we’re doing just fine on EQ overall and could do with a good slug of IQ to balance it up.

    Like

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