EQ part 1: The Differentiating Factor in Leadership Performance

What distinguishes an average leader from a great one?  IQ and technical skills are very important, but merely threshold – a high IQ is not enough.  We have all witnessed some very intelligent people who walk blindly through work tasks and interactions with others, stumbling along a path of reason without sensitivity.  Marshall Goldsmith, in his book MOJO (on Amazon #ad), makes this point in his distinction between "smart and effective."  The smartest people often get in the habit of proving to others how much they know and why their opinions are the right ones. Once young leaders start to move up to higher levels, they quickly find out that this approach will only get resistance and alienation from others.  An effective leader uses his or her smarts to connect, collaborate and proactively influence the thinking and actions of others.  The skills it takes to do this with grace and style have to do with the topic of this article, emotional intelligence (EQ).

Over 30 years of research conducted by Dr. David McClelland (Harvard psychologist/ professor and author of Human Motivation), Dr. Reuven BarOn (Israeli Psychologist and author of EQ Handbooks and Guides), Daniel Goleman (researcher and author of best selling Emotional Intelligence on Amazon #ad, Dr. John Townsend (leadership psychologist and author of  Leadership Beyond Reason on Amazon #ad), Dr. Henry Cloud (psychologist and author of Integrity) and a host of other respected thought leaders, has provided significant evidence that the differentiating factor for superior leadership and performance is emotional intelligence.  

What is EQ?  Internally, it is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings, motivating ourselves and managing our emotions.  Externally, it's the capacity to understand and motivate others while conducting ourselves well.
  • Understanding Yourself
  • Managing Yourself
  • Understanding Others
  • Managing Others
"Emotional Intelligence impacts your ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures."  states Dr. Reuven BarOn.
Daniel Goleman captured detailed documentation of the core research findings in Working with Emotional Intelligence (on Amazon #ad) and Primal Leadership (on Amazon #ad) ,  which confirmed the following about leadership and success:
  • EQ is the differentiating factor in overall success
  • 90% of the difference between outstanding and average leaders is linked to EQ
  • EQ is two times as important as IQ and technical expertise combined
  • EQ is four times as important in terms of overall success
  • In a study of more than 2,000 managers from 12 large organizations, 81% of the competencies that distinguished outstanding managers were related to emotional intelligence.   
For more on EQ, see my next post on The Five Skills of Emotional Intelligence.

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