EI, Not IQ, Is The Key to Outstanding Leadership Performance

Oct 18 21:00 2003 Manya Arond-Thomas Print This Article

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Does your executive team work at cross-purposes? Are you
successfully executing your vision? If you are struggling to
take your leadership or your organization to a higher level
of performance,Guest Posting you may be unaware of the power of emotional
competence as a performance differentiator. Several decades
of research in Emotional Intelligence (EI) have demonstrated
that EI is what differentiates outstanding performers from
average performers.

While technical skill and cognitive ability are essential
competency areas for leaders, emotional intelligence has
been shown to be twice as important in outstanding
performance as the other two competencies combined! In
fact, 80-90% of the difference between outstanding and
average leaders is linked to EI. The abilities that drive
successful execution of vision – motivating, guiding,
inspiring, listening, persuading, and creating resonance –
are emotional competencies. If you want exceptional business
results, you should assess your EI or your team’s EI, for
these are abilities that can be developed.

What is emotional intelligence? Dr. Daniel Goleman, a
thought leader in the field, defines it as “the capacity for
recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for
motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in
ourselves and in our relationships.” Thus, emotional
competence integrates thought and emotion.

There are four domains of emotional intelligence -
self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and
relationship management – within which are eighteen
competencies that have been identified as differentiating
characteristics in outstanding performers. Effective
relationship management is at the heart of great leadership
but self-awareness is considered the linchpin for
developing the other three domains. Emotionally intelligent
leadership, then, builds up from a foundation of

Furthermore, a leader’s EI creates a certain culture or work
environment. Organizational research done by the Hay Group,
co-creators of the Emotional Competence Inventory (a 360
assessment of EI), discovered that “EI is carried...like
electricity through wires....the leader’s mood is quite
literally contagious, spreading quickly and inexorably
throughout the business.” Feelings and emotions have a
direct impact on effectiveness, efficiency and ultimately
the bottom line.

Leaders need to understand that their single most important
task is to create resonance. Put another way, they must
create a positive emotional environment that frees the best
in people. Climate, or how employees feel about working in
the organization, accounts for 20-30% of business
performance; and 50-70% of how employees perceive their
organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of one
person - the leader.

How does this translate to the bottom line? In one study,
experienced partners in a multinational consulting firm were
assessed on the EI competencies plus three others. Those
who scored above the median on 9 or more of the 21
competencies delivered $1.2 million more profit from their
accounts than did other partners – a 139 percent incremental
gain. Another study of 130 executives found that how well
people handled their emotions determined how much people
around them preferred to deal with them.

Harnessing Emotional Intelligence for High-Performing Teams

With the complexity of problems facing health care leaders,
collaboration and the ability to synthesize divergent
points of view are needed more than ever if we are to solve
these problems. Because most work in organizations today is
done by teams, there is a pressing need to make teams work
together better.

Research has demonstrated the superiority of group
decision-making over that of even the brightest individual
in the group, except when the group lacks harmony or the
ability to cooperate. Then decision-making quality and
speed suffer. When people feel good, they work more
effectively, and are more creative. Common sense tells us
that workers who feel upbeat will go the extra mile to
please customers and therefore improve the bottom line.

To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally
intelligent norms that support behaviors for building trust,
group identity and group efficacy - three conditions
essential to a team’s effectiveness. Norms that foster
group EI involve: courageously bringing feelings out in the
open and dialoguing about how they affect the team’s work,
using humor to defuse tense situations, the willingness to
explore and expose unhealthy work habits in order to build
more effective group norms and performance, and behaving in
ways that build relationships both inside and outside the
team. In self-aware, self-managing teams, members hold each
other accountable for sticking to norms.

However, it is the leader’s job to instill a sense of
responsibility in each person for the well-being of the
team. It takes a strong emotionally intelligent leader to
hold the team to such responsibility. An emotionally
competent leader who is skilled in creating good feelings
can keep cooperation high. Good team leaders know how to
balance the focus on productivity with attention to members’
relationships and their ability to connect.

How Do You Build an Emotionally Intelligent Organization?

In addition to specific emotional competencies, there are
certain Rules of Engagement that help to create a resonant,
emotionally intelligent, and effective culture:
1. Discover the emotional reality of the organization.

2. Slow down in order to speed up – talk to people at all
levels and find out about systems and culture.

3. Start at the top with a bottom-up strategy, engaging all
the representative stakeholders who in any way impact the
patient-customer interface, and learn about what’s working
and what’s not working. Then create a whole-system
conversation in which all the stakeholders who need to be in
the conversation are in the room and talk about what needs
to happen to move things forward.

4. Create a preferred future, with an energizing vision to
which employees can bring their best selves.

5. Sustain emotional intelligence by turning the vision into
action, creating systems or processes that promote
emotionally intelligent behavior.

Matters of emotion are typically dismissed as the “soft”
stuff, yet in reality emotional competence is the “hard”
stuff. Developing EI is well worth the effort, for
emotional competence is what sets the best leaders and the
best teams apart from the rest.

(c) Copyright 2003 Manya Arond-Thomas All Rights Reserved.

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About Article Author

Manya Arond-Thomas
Manya Arond-Thomas

Manya Arond-Thomas, M.D., a principal of Encompass Health,
coaches physicians, healthcare executives, and teams
aspiring to build competence in the skills required to lead
organizations in turbulent times. Contact her at (734)
480-1932 or Manya@EncompassHealth.com.
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