What makes a great leader? Daniel Goleman answers: “truly effective leaders are distinguished by a h

Questioning the established measures of greatness, the American author Daniel Goleman reveals why emotional intelligence is key to be an excellent leader. Let’s have an overview!

Posted Thursday, June 4th 2015
What makes a great leader? Daniel Goleman answers: “truly effective leaders are distinguished by a h
When we ask ourselves what a good leader is, most of us will immediately think of someone with highly intellectual capacities, technically proficient, and somewhat charismatic. In his research, American psychologist and Professor, Daniel Goleman, discovered that although, a high IQ and technical capabilities do matter, these are far from being sufficient. After carrying out his study in nearly 200 large companies, he found out that what really counts is emotional intelligence. Goleman reveals his thought in the article published in the Harvard Business Review, “What makes a leader?”

The term ‘emotional intelligence’ was first popularized by Daniel Goleman’s best-selling book published in 1995. But it was only in 1998 that the psychologist applied this conceptual phrase to business in the HBR review. Even if the notion seemed associated with a “soft skills” category, Goleman established a direct link between measurable business skills and emotional intelligence. According to his research, the most competent leaders all present a high degree of emotional intelligence. But what exactly comprises emotional intelligence? It basically includes the following five components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and finally, social skill. A brief presentation on each one of those.
• Self-awareness may be summed in Socrates’ precept, “nosce te ipsum” meaning know thyself. Having self-awareness means to understand one’s feelings, emotions and effects upon others.
• Self-regulation. According to Goleman, this component is the one that, “frees us from being prisoners of our feelings.” It represents our ability to handle and control impulses and moods.
• Motivation. Motivation, in this case, is tied with achievement rather than driven by external rewards such as money or status.
• Empathy. A leader full of empathy does not mean to please each of the company’s employees, but only signifies that she/he will carefully take into consideration the employees’ feelings in order to make any decision.
• Social skill. The ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships, and build functional networks.

For those who read these lines thinking they are lacking of some of the attributes described above, there is no need to worry. Emotional intelligence can be learned. As genetics together with nurture do play an intertwined role, it remains possible to acquire emotional intelligence. First of all, time helps. People gain emotional intelligence with age. Yet, even with maturity, and for those in a hurry, only true persistence and desire combined with effective efforts can truly enhance emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman further underscored that a person can be incredibly intelligent, showing high-proficiency in analytic reasoning and holding impressive technical skills, but that without emotional intelligence, he or she will never be a great leader.

For the record, Daniel is an internationally recognized American psychologist. ‘Emotional Intelligence’ was printed in 40 different languages. It also has been recognized as one of the 25 “most influential business management books” by Time Magazine. Goleman also worked as a science journalist for The New-York Times where he reported on psychology and brain sciences.

Julie Eliachar

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Other articles of the same issue:
A dialogue with Seth Dei: about choices of study, work and life (Part I)
A dialogue with Seth Dei: about investment, art and leadership (Part II)
Throughout Jobs’ Journey
10 disruptive leaders of civil society (Part I)
Wisdom on inspiration
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