Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
It was Daniel Goleman who first brought the term “emotional
intelligence” to a wide audience with his 1995 book of that
name, and it was Goleman who first applied the concept to
business with his 1998 HBR article, reprinted here. In his
research at nearly 200 large, global companies, Goleman found
that while the qualities traditionally associated with
leadership—such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and
vision—are required for success, they are insufficient. Truly
effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of
emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness,
self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.
These qualities may sound “soft” and unbusinesslike, but
Goleman found direct ties between emotional intelligence and
measurable business results. While emotional intelligence’s
relevance to business has continued to spark debate over the
past six years, Goleman’s article remains the definitive
reference on the subject, with a description of each component
of emotional intelligence and a detailed discussion of how to
recognize it in potential leaders, how and why it connects to
performance, and how it can be learned.
Every businessperson knows a story about a highly
intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a
leadership position only to fail at the job. And they also
know a story about someone with solid—but not
extraordinary—intellectual abilities and technical skills who
was promoted into a similar position and then soared.
Such anecdotes support the widespread belief that identifying
individuals with the “right stuff” to be leaders is more art
than science. After all, the personal styles of superb leaders
vary: Some leaders are subdued and analytical; others shout
their manifestos from the mountaintops. And just as important,
different situations call for different types of leadership.
Most mergers need a sensitive negotiator at the helm, whereas
many turnarounds require a more forceful authority.
I have found, however, that the most effective leaders are
alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what
has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that
IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but
mainly as “threshold capabilities”; that is, they are the
entry-level requirements for executive positions. But my
research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that
emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.
Without it, a person can have the best training in the world,
an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart
ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.
In the course of the past year, my colleagues and I have
focused on how emotional intelligence operates at work. We
have examined the relationship between emotional intelligence
and effective performance,...