Attribute of a Great Leader: Emotional Intelligence
Studies have shown that people with high Emotional Intelligence (EI) have greater mental health, exemplary job performance, and more potent leadership skills, markers of EI and methods of developing it have become more widely coveted in the past few decades.
There are three main models of EI:
- Ability model
- Mixed model (usually subsumed under trait EI)
- Trait model
The initial definition of EI was revised to “The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth.” However, after pursuing further research, their definition of EI evolved into “the capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions, to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”
The ability-based model views emotions as useful sources of information that help one to make sense of and navigate the social environment.The model proposes that individuals vary in their ability to process information of an emotional nature and in their ability to relate emotional processing to a wider cognition. This ability is seen to manifest itself in certain adaptive behaviors. The model claims that EI includes four types of abilities:
- Perceiving emotions – the ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, pictures, voices, and cultural artifacts—including the ability to identify one’s own emotions. Perceiving emotions represents a basic aspect of emotional intelligence, as it makes all other processing of emotional information possible.
- Using emotions – the ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities, such as thinking and problem solving. The emotionally intelligent person can capitalize fully upon his or her changing moods in order to best fit the task at hand.
- Understanding emotions – the ability to comprehend emotion language and to appreciate complicated relationships among emotions. For example, understanding emotions encompasses the ability to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions, and the ability to recognize and describe how emotions evolve over time.
- Managing emotions – the ability to regulate emotions in both ourselves and in others. Therefore, the emotionally intelligent person can harness emotions, even negative ones, and manage them to achieve intended goals.
The ability EI model has been criticized in the research for lacking face and predictive validity in the workplace.
Mixed model outlines five main EI constructs:
- Self-awareness – the ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
- Self-regulation – involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
- Social skill – managing relationships to move people in the desired direction
- Empathy – considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions
- Motivation – being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement.
Consider reading “What Makes A Leader” by Daniel Goleman.
An alternative label for the same construct is trait emotional self-efficacy. The trait EI model is general and subsumes the Goleman model discussed above. The conceptualization of EI as a personality trait leads to a construct that lies outside the taxonomy of human cognitive ability. This is an important distinction in as much as it bears directly on the operationalization of the construct and the theories and hypotheses that are formulated about it.