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Leading with Emotional Intelligence

September 25, 2020

From Good to Great

By Laurie Baedke, FACHE, FACMPE

The leader with highly-developed emotional intelligence stands out like a bright and welcoming lighthouse in the deep sea of qualified candidates. They have a distinct edge over those who lack this important leadership attribute–and it shows. Those with a high degree of emotional intelligence are more often called upon to lead. They are naturally influential, and they leave a positive and lasting mark on the organizations and people they serve. Let's explore the significance of emotional intelligence (EI) and how it can enhance leadership ability and overall professional success. We will also present ideas for how a person can develop their EI to reap the benefits of this important and highly sought-after leadership skill.

Lighthouse beacon

What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Does it Matter?

In his vast research on this topic, Dr. Daniel Goleman defined emotional intelligence as the ability to understand oneself and to empathize with others. Dr. Goleman believes emotional intelligence lies within one’s capacity for recognizing and identifying feelings, and then successfully using those insights to motivate and manage ourselves and others. 

Emotionally intelligent individuals:

  • possess ability to connect with others in ways that incite confidence and facilitate collaboration
  • build productive and inspired teams with a high level of trust and job satisfaction
  • add immeasurable value to their organizations in ways beyond their impressive credentials, vast technical expertise, years of education, or relevant experience
  • bring a keen understanding of the human elements of leadership
  • are the leaders everyone wants to follow, and every organization is lucky to have

In summary, the emotionally intelligent person is highly conscious of their own emotional state and the emotional state of others and is able to use that deep understanding to be more effective in their roles as a leader. So, why does EI matter so much?

Because being smart, credentialed, accomplished, and well-educated isn’t always enough.

In a 2012 article by Keld Jensen published in Forbes Magazine, the author asserts that IQ alone is barely an indicator when it comes to predicting success and professional achievement. Jensen even goes as far as to say that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” which the author defines as “your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead” (Forbes, 2012). So, if a high IQ does not guarantee you will stand out amongst the crowd, and your long list of credentials and education isn’t enough to propel your success as a leader- what other qualities do you need to have?

At Creighton University’s Heider College of Business, we believe developing your EI is just as important to the success equation as your educational and professional achievements. Like all of the programs at Creighton University, our Healthcare Executive Education programs are infused with the Jesuit values of service to community and others and personal formation. Our programs’ curricula are intended to assist you in elevating your expertise; focusing equally on technical and emotional competencies.

Can a person learn to be more emotionally intelligent?

The good news is, yes! Being mindful of your own internal dialog and of how others perceive you and your leadership style is a great start. An intentional awareness of your thought processes and communication style can help create opportunities to grow as a leader. In a 2017 article in the Harvard Business Review, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Michael Sanger provide some suggestions for how one can develop EI:

  • Have a realistic view of your own strengths and weaknesses
  • Develop a basic appreciation of your team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs
  • Focus on building good relationships- be cooperative, friendly, trusting, and unselfish
  • Don’t let your passion and enthusiasm cross the line into moodiness, be mindful of your triggers and reactions and avoid temper tantrums
  • Strike a good balance between assertiveness and modesty to earn both the respect and confidence of your team

While EI is largely attributed to a combination of stable personality traits, it is not set in stone. With mindfulness, focus, and dedication, you can learn to be more self-aware and fine-tune your EI over time. (Chamorro-Premuzic and Sanger, 2017).

Another good strategy is to be intentional about your choice of professional development and educational opportunities. Invest in opportunities that will fine-tune or enhance your emotional intelligence alongside the advancement of your technical knowledge and professional expertise.

Creighton’s Healthcare Executive Education programs are infused with elements that will help leaders gain self-awareness, grow capacity for leading and influencing others, and increase overall emotional intelligence. The commitment to producing well-rounded leaders is just part of Creighton’s DNA.

Conclusion

Emotionally intelligent leaders are highly skilled at human connections and relationships. They can skillfully manage change, make beneficial relationships and collaborations work, navigate diverse and multi-generational workplaces, and retain valuable talent within their organizations.

As Dr. Goleman states “it’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities’; that is they are entry-level requirements for the executive level positions.” After all, leaders are LEADING; humans, processes, organizations, and more. When one advances past the role of individual contributor, it’s critical that she turns an equal focus to growing not only her technical and tactical expertise, but also her behavioral and emotional prowess. Technical competence will get you in the door. EI is what can set you apart.

To increase your EI, here are three habits and practices to consider:

  1. Consistently and intentionally nurture growth in the areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
  2. Learn to be mindful of your emotions and emotional reactions to people and situations in order to more effectively engage with the world around you.
  3. Seek honest feedback on your strengths and weaknesses from trusted colleagues, other successful leaders in your professional sphere, or an objective third party like a coach or mentor.

And finally, invest in educational and professional development opportunities that provide a balanced approach to teaching leadership. Look for a curriculum focused on the necessary competencies while also helping you grow your interpersonal skills. These simple strategies can help you become the leader everyone wants to follow.

For more information on Creighton’s Healthcare Executive Education programs, please contact the Director of Healthcare Leadership Programs, Laurie Baedke, FACHE, FACMPE at lauriebaedke@creighton.edu or 402.280.4948. Laurie is a well-known speaker and co-author of the book “The Emerging Healthcare Leader- A Field Guide”. She has studied emotional intelligence extensively and presents nationally on the topic.

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References:

Baedke, L., Lamberton, N. (2015) The Emerging Healthcare Leader: A Field Guide. Chicago, IL: Health Administration Press, div. of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Forbes. (2016). Emotional Intelligence Can Turbocharge Your Career and Save Your Life. (online) Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/03/03/emotional-intelligence-can-turbocharge-your-career-and-save-your-life/#a302e47df66c

Forbes. (2012). Intelligence is Overrated- What You Really Need to Succeed. (online) Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/keldjensen/2012/04/12/intelligence-is-overrated-what-you-really-need-to-succeed/#c522b97b6d2c

Goleman, D. (1997). Emotional intelligence. New York [etc.]: Bantam Books.

Harvard Business Review. (2017). How to Boost Your (and Others’) Emotional Intelligence. (online) Available at: https://hbr.org/2017/01/how-to-boost-your-and-others-emotional-intelligence

Harvard Business Review. (2004). What Makes a Leader? Available at: https://hbr.org/2004/01/what-makes-a-leader

Mittal, E. and Sindhu, D. (2012). Emotional Intelligence & Leadership. Global Journal of Management and Business Research, XII(XVI), pp.35 - 37.

Psychology Today. (2017). Emotional Intelligence. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/emotional-intelligence