Emotional Intelligence Is Key to Good Leadership

There's one thing that most managers of high-performing businesses have in common beyond operational smarts. They have emotional smarts as well, a new survey shows.

Emotional smarts is shorthand for the more formal descriptive term "emotional intelligence," which refers to a set of skills for understanding and using emotions effectively.  A new study conducted in Europe by Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network, showed that there is a high correlation between having leaders with strong emotional capabilities and high performance.

Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network, is a global organization supporting the development of emotional intelligence.

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For individual managers, the study showed that emotional intelligence scores accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of the variation in managers' performance scores. In addition, the study found that emotional intelligence predicts 76 percent of the variation in organizational engagement.

The evidence was more than anecdotal. The plants studied that had higher organizational engagement achieved higher bottom-line results and a significant drop in employee turnover rate of 63 percent.

One of the leaders of the project, Massimiliano Ghini, a professor of management at Alma Graduate School in Italy, said the study is important because it links three critical variables.

"This is one of the first studies showing the link between the individual leader's emotional intelligence, the impact on organizational climate and how that drives performance," Ghini said.

Ghini will present the results of the study at Harvard University at the NexusEQ Conference in June.

The study describes a process of increasing self-awareness, self-management and self-direction.  These learnable skills appear to make managers more capable of building a workplace climate, or environment, where employees are effective.

"The workplace climate is a driving force in how employees engage in their daily activities," Ghini said.  "When factors such as trust and teamwork are present, the research shows that the company generates better results.  So the conclusion is simple:  If we want business success, we need to equip leaders with the skills to make an environment where employees can work effectively."