Emotional Intelligence: Is It Necessary?

My guide walked me through a small hallway that led into an even smaller space, the size of a tiny office.  In less than 15 minutes this room would be the place where I would meet a few church members to talk about one of my favorite subjects; Servant Leadership.  By now, I had been traveling around Europe with Abante International, and had already taught a few workshops on the subject.  This specific church was a French speaking church in the country of Luxembourg.

When my group of students arrived, I was immediately confronted with a few challenges.  First, there were three Italians who spoke mainly Italian, a little bit of French and even less English, and one person who only spoke Portuguese.  Of course, we didn’t have an interpreter, and to make things more challenging, the class consisted of high-ranking denominational leaders, an Au Pair, a Housewife, a seminary student, and a Successful Business owner.  I could have stressed out and canceled the class, but I knew better.  Sometimes things are out of our control, and there is no one to blame.  What to do, then?

When situations like this happen, I say a little prayer, take a deep breath, and then do what needs to be done with a smile on my face.  I won’t lie.  Sometimes, I also cry…I’m not sure why this happened, but while we were trying to work through these challenges, the thought of Emotional Intelligence came to my mind.  I had heard about it, during my husband’s first Leadership Training session with the Abante team.  It had sparked an interest in me to read about it.  Then, when I took a Leadership class for my Grad School requirement, I came across it once more, and was so fascinated; I wanted to research it as one of my assignments.

According to Peter G. Northhouse, in his book, Leadership: Theory and Practice, Emotional Intelligence has to do with our emotions (affective domain) and thinking (cognitive domain), and the interplay between the two.  Whereas intelligence is concerned with our ability to learn information and apply it to life tasks, emotional intelligence is concerned with our ability to understand emotions and apply this understanding to life’s tasks.  Specifically emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to perceive and express emotions, to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand and reason with emotions, and to effectively manage emotions within oneself and in relationships with others. (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000).

Emotional Intelligence has a set of five components: Self-awareness, Self-management, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skill…the higher you go in your organization, the more Emotional Intelligence matters. Daniel Goleman

I realized that I was going to have to utilize Emotional Intelligence in this specific situation.  Sensing the uneasiness in the group, I threw out a few funny phrases in Spanish to see if the Italians and Portuguese could understand some. Well, immediately their demeanor changed.  Everyone laughed at the fact that we understood each other better.  I sat close to them, rather than standing, and I asked everyone to tell me something personal about him or herself.  Soon the class turned into a chat among friends, with me teaching in English and Spanish, while one of the Italians, translated what he could to the other Italians.  It was a funny sight, but also a wonderful experience.

My greatest take-away from this experience was, understanding the role my emotions play as I relate to others, as well as realizing the level of self-control I must exercise in order to lead well, so that I can infuse the right amount of intensity, calmness, reassurance, and even joy to any stressful/problematic situation.  I won’t lie; this is not easy to do.  However, if anyone in a leadership position is able to manage his or her emotions in a positive way, they will experience better results, and meaningful encounters with other people.

Here are some tips on how to use Emotional Intelligence:

  • Be aware of your context (What is the room like? Is it busy? Small or large? Is it neat or messy? What is the temperature like? Is the room set up in a way that fits the needs of your meeting? i.e. small and intimate for counseling or  medium size with a large table for conference meeting, etc..)
  • Be aware of your audience (Who are they? Where do they come from? What is their gender? What is their body language telling you? Do they speak or understand your language?)
  • Be aware of your body language (Are you making good eye contact? Are you calm?  What is the volume and tone of your voice?)
  • Be aware of potential distractions (Are small children present? Noise levels? People coming in and out? Cell phones?)
  • Be aware of participation (Is everyone engaging? Is someone monopolizing your/their attention?)

If you are interested in knowing more about Emotional Intelligence, any literature or videos from Renown Author and psychologist Daniel Goleman are by far the most informative on this subject.  According to his biography, Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half, with more than 5,000,000 copies in print worldwide in 40 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries. (http://www.danielgoleman.info/biography)

I would like to suggest a couple of videos you might like to watch in your leisure time:

leadersin.com/users/DanielGoleman (5:10 minutes) Uploaded on Nov 24, 2011  www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ScJX404pnY

BVO The Business Voice Interview, (3:53 minutes) leadersin.com/programmes/Daniel-Goleman-on-emotional-intelligence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJhfKYzKc0s

Goleman explains Emotional Intelligence.  Interview on Allan Greg In Conversation, published on March 13, 2012.  Originally aired February 1999 (26:37 minutes)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeJ3FF1yFyc&list=PLTzflaA2Sg1Z2uOclJzyo_Pk9uK2eMJHT

Until we meet again at the Invisible Gazebo, be aware of how you make others feel…

Comments 2

  1. Excellent informative piece. Enjoyed immensely! Thanks for the links to further information on the subject!

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