John Kotter of Harvard Business School said, “Because of the furious pace of change in business today, difficult to manage relationships sabotage more business than anything else-it is not a question of strategy that gets us into trouble; it is a question of emotions.” Indeed emotions and dispositions are so powerful they may turn someone into a better person someday, and truly a person’s emotions may affect the kind of behavior he shows around everyone else as well as the success he wants to achieve in his life. Coupled with this fact is the power of emotions to persuade, influence, and cause change to happen. The question therefore is, can we equate Emotional Quotient to leadership? Does leadership require high levels of emotionality?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. Leadership on the other hand is the process by which certain group members motivate and guide behavior.
Normally, good leadership skills go hand in hand with several positive dispositions. In the group setting, the person most frequently assigned to be the leader is the one who is perceived to have the strongest personality. This observed phenomenon may be correct after all considering a number of recent available literatures suggesting the relationship between good leadership skills and high emotional quotient. These studies are alike in one surprising way: that, most effective leaders have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. However, it is not that intelligence and technical skills are undermined. In fact, they are also significant only that emotional quotient is the crème-de la-crème of the overall contributory factors to good leadership skills.
In light of modernity and globalization, emotional intelligence has become an important part of how leaders of today meet the challenges they face on a day to day level. Indeed, emotional intelligence can help leaders in an even more difficult leadership role, one that only a chosen few seem to possess in such a stressful environment just like what we have these days. In the past, we have had great leaders such as Alexander the great, Queen Elizabeth I, and Abraham Lincoln. No one knows what made these historical icons extraordinary leaders. What we are certain about is they differ from ordinary human beings in many aspects. For example, they all seem to have possessed high levels of ambition coupled with clear visions of precisely where they wanted to be. For years, Social Psychologists thought if there might be qualities that distinguish a good leader. This quest for knowledge however was not deemed futile because of the many findings brought about by different researches.
On one study conducted by British Social Psychologists Peter Smith and Monir Tayeb, they found that the most effective supervisors are task and social leadership oriented. This implies that the leaders are actively concerned with how work is progressing and are sensitive to the needs of their subordinates. Like Smith and Tayeb, Rensis Likert also suggested that leaders may be job centered or employee centered or any combination of the two. Just like Smith’s, Tayeb’s and Likert’s view, a group of researchers at the Ohio State said that there are two basic leader behaviors or styles. One is initiating-structure behavior. Here, the leader organizes the work, defines and specifies what the subordinate must do and pulls everything back together in the end. The other is the consideration behavior where the leader shows concern for subordinates and attempts to establish a warm, friendly, and supportive climate. Hence, when a leader is sensitive to an employee’s feelings and is legitimately concerned about the employee’s fair treatment as a human being, the leader probably exhibits considerate behaviors. This leadership behavior is best seen in a leader who is a good listener, open to his subordinates’ ideas and always willing to consult his members’ opinions before implementing change. He is cooperative with others and is able to foster participative management. Clearly, these attitudes must be possessed by the leader. In one analysis of 50 Dutch companies, the highest morale was at firms with chief executives who most inspired their colleagues “to transcend their own self-interests for the sake of the collective.” This kind of leadership engages others to identify with and commit themselves to group’s mission. This type of leader is charismatic, energetic, self-confident, extraverts, articulate high standards, inspire people to share their vision, and offer personal attention. This kind of leadership frequently results in a more engaged, trusting, and effective workforce.
Therefore to effect change, a leader must be someone who has strong personality to influence, persuade, and effect change. He must be an embodiment of personal drive, desire to lead, personal integrity, and self confidence. These traits as researchers suggest are vital characteristics a leader must possess to be able to withstand the many demands and pressure the society puts on his back. He must be strong, firm, and decisive in making decisions though he should always consider the benefit of the majority. He must be able to understand hi s own emotions so he would understand others, and lastly he should be open to hear the voices of the minority and must always account for variable change. In conclusion, a leader must be someone with high emotionality and resilience to stress and emotional pressure to be able to withstand and satisfy the demands the society expects of him.