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Buff up your emotional intelligence

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills,Management Training

Yale psychologists, back in 1990, found that the ability to think dispassionately about your own passions is linked with success. This finding opened up a whole new field: emotional intelligence.

The business world needed an interpreter, who turned out to be Daniel Goleman, author of the 1995 best-seller Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

“Being a ‘tough guy’ no longer is a winning strategy in organizations,” Goleman says now. “It works in the early days of a start-up or when people don’t have other choices. But even then it doesn’t work all that well.”

Being put in a position of power seems to drain emotional intelligence, although Goleman thinks empathy isn’t draining away; he thinks it was never there to begin with.

As smart, well-educated people move up the ranks, their emotional qualities begin setting them apart. Unfortunately, poor empathy and self-management may not become apparent until managers rise into leadership positions, where their ham-handedness can wreak havoc.

What to do?

The answer seems to lie in something called “mindfulness,” which means becoming more aware of your thoughts and actions.

“The executives who make the best decisions,” he says, “are the ones who spend time by themselves reflecting, though that may be the time they spend riding their Harleys. Meditation helps one get into a mode of mind where the background information processing, which is the wisest part of the mind, can rise to the surface, and you get the ‘aha’ of decisions you’ve been pondering.”

Lesson: Set aside time to reflect. Do a little reading on the subject. And be mindful of others.

— Adapted from “Tea and Empathy with Daniel Goleman,” Lawrence M. Fisher, strategy + business.

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