Emotional intelligence and leadership

Emotional intelligence and leadership

I spent 2 days with a senior leadership team this week and as preparation for the workshop I had them take Simon Baron-Cohen’s (yes, he is related to Borat) ‘Mind in the Eyes’ Test.

I came across this test in an article on research done by MIT’s Centre of Collective Intelligence into predicting team performance. We use it for the purpose of gauging a team’s level of emotional intelligence at the commencement of our leadership team development programmes.

The test was originally designed for determining autism but the MIT research group discovered that it was an extremely valuable tool for predicting the level of performance that a team could achieve – the higher the average score of the team, the higher its performance would be.

I asked this week’s group why they thought we would be assessing their emotional intelligence and their answers reflected a clear understanding of its relationship to leadership, which was heartening!

The dictionary defines emotional intelligence as ‘the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically’. Some people seem to have been born with this ability, others to have developed it as a result of their upbringing and then there are those who seem to have a much smaller capacity. Naturally, the question is – how do we expand our emotional intelligence?

For me, the crux of the matter is listening – to ourselves and to others – really listening. It is possible to heighten our awareness of what is going on with ourselves, in our thoughts, emotions and feelings and through that to gain a greater appreciation of and empathy for others.

Leaders who cannot put themselves in the shoes of others, who cannot relate to the worlds that others are in and relish the opportunity of discovering each person’s unique contribution won’t be able to create the kind of connection with their people that results in loyalty, discretionary effort and creativity.

Take the test, it’s fun.



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