I have just finished reading Emotional Capitalists: The New Leaders by Martyn Newman
The premise of the book is that there is new type of leader emerging who, using emotional intelligence (EQ), will be more successful. The structure of the book is simple: Newman lists seven competencies of the high-EQ leader: self-reliance, assertiveness, optimism, self-actualisation, self-confidence, relationship skills and empathy. Chapter by chapter Newman describes how the reader can improve those competencies.
Given that steps three and four of Daniel Goleman’s definition of emotional intelligence are empathy and relationship skills these two chapters are almost tautological. Newman does make a telling point that no single factor predicts the productivity of an employee more clearly than his or her relationship with a direct supervisor.
Given the falls in productivity in Australia over the past five years you could argue that the Industrial Relations system imposed by the federal government is a bigger factor. However, there is no doubt the advice given in Emotional Capitalists that if there is an emotional bond between the employee and manager that is built on trust and respect it is likely the performance of the employee will improve.
However, it is with the five other competencies that I have a problem. Here is what Newman says about them:
Self-reliance: The single most important signature strength for creating emotional wealth.
Assertiveness: Comprises being able to communicate your message honestly and directly, while respecting that others may hold a different opinion.
Optimism: Is perhaps the important quality you can develop to achieve greater success as a leader.
Self-actualisation: Nothing is more important to your long-term success as a leader than building your stocks of emotional capital in self-actualisation.
Self-reliance: The most basic foundation of your emotional capital and the source of your personal power.
I must confess that when I consider this list I feel a little sorry for assertiveness.
But my real point is what do these competencies have to do with steps one and two of EQ: namely self-analysis of your core emotions and self-management?
Goleman’s primary example of EQ is the famous ‘marshmallow study’ of Mischel. (You can see a terrific TED talk about it here.) If there is one critical EQ skill in self-management it is the ability to delay self-gratification.
Yes, the five competencies for leaders listed by Newman are important. A good definition of emotional intelligence is the delay between impulse and action. It is the ability to control your emotions that distinguishes the emotionally intelligent leader.