ARE YOU AN EMOTIONAL GENIUS?
Don’t worry. You can get better.
By Dori Meinert
If you’re a leader, you probably already have the time-honored “business smarts” for the job, namely the intellectual capability and technical skill.
Those are important. But they’re only the base line.
Numerous studies have shown that what distinguishes
outstanding leaders from average ones are emotional
self-awareness and self-control.
“Efective leaders tend to be smart in the traditional
way, but there’s also this emotional component that’s
probably equally important, if not more so,” says Cary
Cherniss, professor emeritus of organizational psychology
and co-chair of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and
understand your own and others’ emotions and how they
drive behavior, and then using that knowledge to motivate others.
“Most people make mistakes around emotional intel-
ligence because they don’t understand what’s going on
with other people,” says Travis Bradberry, president of
TalentSmart in San Diego, which provides emotional in-
telligence tests and training. “They don’t even necessarily
understand what’s going on with themselves.”
In assessments of more than 2 million workers,
TalentSmart researchers found that “just 36 percent of
people are able to accurately identify their emotions as
they happen,” says Bradberry, author of Emotional Intel-
ligence 2.0 (TalentSmart, 2009).
A lack of emotional intelligence among the senior team
can be devastating to the rest of the workforce.
“Leaders prime the emotional state of the organization,” Bradberry says. “So when they’re inefective, when
they set poor examples of how they treat other people,
that trickles down throughout the company.” The result
could be low employee engagement or high turnover because of the toxic interactions between people.
“It’s very hard on morale, and you start to lose that discretionary efort that you get from people who love their
jobs and work in motivating, comfortable environments,”
One telltale sign of leaders who need to work on managing their emotions is that they frequently have challenging interactions with others.
“They fnd people very difcult, and they don’t tend to understand that they are part of the equation,” Bradberry says.
On the other hand, leaders with high emotional intelligence “tend to be uplifted by their interactions with
people and think it’s great to have a team,” he says.
The good news is you can improve your emotional intelligence, if you’re willing to work at it.
“It’s really critical for somebody who wants to excel as
a manager and leader that they look at developing these
skills. And by the way, they can be learned,” says Annie
McKee, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s