Are You Emotionally Intelligent? EI–The Inner Side of Leadership: Part I
This is the first of a three-part series on what is called Emotional Intelligence. EI, in its shortened name, first exploded onto the leadership scene in the nineties. While much of the literature has been simply rearranged in subsequent book editions, EI is a vitally important component of our personal growth and leadership development. For that reason, along with the effects on people from our rapidly changing world and workplace, I’ve decided to present in condensed form some of the past work I’ve written on emotional intelligence. I hope you find it useful, and as always I welcome your thoughts and insights.
Let’s start with a definition of emotional intelligence. This is my interpretation, with which you may agree or disagree. However, reflect on this while you read this post and the following two parts in this series.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand ourselves in-depth — our strengths, weaknesses, gifts and warts — to sense what is going on around us, to see the deeper meanings of the relationships we form, and to conduct ourselves in a mature manner as we encounter obstacles in our lives.
Why does EI continue to receive attention and interest? Here are five reasons:
To begin with, relationship building is a vital part to becoming an effective leader, whether in business or in the public and non-profit sectors. Those in formal management positions have a special need to be strong relationship builders.
A second reason is that managerial leadership is very demanding. Managers are expected to produce more results with limited resources, and often in an environment where their teams are dispersed geographically, perhaps even in other countries.
Third, our workforce now spans five generations, from Gen Z (those entering the job market) to Gens Y and X to Baby Boomers to the Silent Generation (67 plus). Leaders face growing challenges in their interactions with people, with each age cohort possessing unique value sets and expectations.
Fourth, managers are confronting a volatile, unpredictable global economy. Change adaptability, supported by emotional intelligence, is a key skill to develop in this brave new world.
Finally, managers and leaders, regardless of position or level in organizations, need to embrace a multitude of intelligences.
Nine Types of Intelligence
1. Factual Intelligence
This is the person who’s a sponge for information and who loves facts. This person, as Charles Handy states, “…can give an impromptu lecture on the state of the Romanian economy over dinner. We are envious but often bored.”
2. Analytical Intelligence
Intellectual problems, crossword puzzles, etc. are what turn this person on. They’re able to synthesize complex information and data, making sense out of it for others. Combining this intelligence with factual intelligence gives them a superior edge when it comes to exams.
3. Linguistic Intelligence
Some people learn new languages quickly and easily. They master not just the vocabulary and conjugation, but they learn correct pronunciation. This intelligence is not necessarily connected to the first two.
4. Spatial Intelligence
This is a very different form because it involves the ability to see patterns in things. People who are typically strong in this intelligence include artists, mathematicians, designers and entrepreneurs. There’s no correlation between this type and the first two types, which is why entrepreneurs, for example, often do poorly at school.
5. Musical Intelligence
Those who excel at music and who are often seen as “gifted” frequently don’t perform well in factual or analytical intelligence.
Some people are good at taking things apart and then reassembling them, enjoying learning how things operate. However, they may not be able to explain how they do it. They just do it. People who are strong in factual and analytical intelligence are often weak in this form of intelligence.
7. Physical Intelligence
This refers to people who demonstrate strong abilities at learning sports or activities such as dancing. They have very strong coordination skills.
8. Intuitive Intelligence
Some people are able to perceive things that others are unable to. The management literature now recognizes intuition as being a key element of effective leadership.
9. Interpersonal Intelligence
This is the ability to get things done through the involvement of people. People strong in this type are often weak in analytical or factual intelligence. As Handy observes: “Without this form of intelligence, great minds can be wasted.”
It’s important to understand that the above nine intelligences are not cast in stone, especially some of the subtler traits within each one, as well as the inter-connections across them. A case in point is myself. I’m musically talented, playing the piano for many years, and a second instrument when I was younger. I’m also analytical and factual-oriented, which I attribute to my training a long time ago in economics.
Therefore, some caution needs to be exercised when talking about “intelligence” and other topics related to personality. A good example is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which consists of 16 personality types. In the past, I’ve seen HR people trained in the MBTI attempt to pigeon-hole others into certain personality types. Big mistake.
Use the above nine intelligences with care.
In part two of this series, we’ll look at Are You Open to Outcome, and Not Attached to It?
It’s not what we don’t know that hurts, it’s what we know that ain’t so.
– Will Rogers
Photo by J. Taggart (Rideau Canal lock system, Ontario, Canada)
Click here to download my new complimentary e-book Leadership and the Inter-Generational Divide, 2nd Edition.
Visit my e-Books, Resources and Services pages.