Leading with heart

While domain expertise and analytical thinking are important in any role, emotional competence is critical to good leadership, says Suresh Raina.

While domain expertise and analytical thinking are important in any role, emotional competence is critical to good leadership, says Suresh Raina.

Intelligence Quotient or cognitive intelligence is rated very highly. It is also used quite frequently to determine outcomes such as school admissions, college selection, job interviews, among many other real world applications. But does it really determine the job success by itself. Can you really forecast the success of a candidate by his IQ alone? If IQ had been the only leading indicator, all the so called super smart people would have been the CEOs or presidents.

It is here that a factor called ‘emotional competence’ comes into play. Emotional Competence (EC) in a leader may be defined as the empathy that enables him/ her to read others’ state of mind, and the social skills required to handle those feelings. It is this which gives the leader the ability to influence others and get the desired results.

EC is a measure of the potential that one has, to translate his/her emotional intelligence into on-the-job capabilities like service orientation, trustworthiness, attitude, ambition, collaboration, among others. EC builds on the Emotional Intelligence potential of an individual. An individual with weak social skills may find it difficult to lead a team, or be a change leader. If you are neither aware of your own strengths, nor have the self confidence to express it, you may find it difficult to inspire others.
Daniel Goleman in his book, Emotional Intelligence, has defined the personal competencies that help determine how a leader manages himself/ herself:

1. Self awareness: includes knowing ones internal state of mind, intuition, preferences, etc and also knowing your strengths and weakness

2. Self regulation: manages ones internal states, and includes self control, trustworthiness, honesty and integrity, conscientiousness

3. Motivation: helps define the achievement drive, striving to meet the standards of excellence, commitment, alignment with team, optimism and persistence to pursue goals.

4. Empathy: awareness of others’ needs, understanding their state of mind, sensing their needs and concerns, developing others, bolstering them, anticipating their needs, political awareness, ability to read power equations in an organization

5. Social skills: ability to influence, wielding tactics for persuasion, communication, listening, conflict management, leadership and to resolve disagreements, leading change management, collaboration and cooperation

These competencies are interdependent, and they affect our performance at school, work and family. It is now universally acknowledged that EC has a far greater impact compared to cognitive abilities on one’s life. As organizations become larger, more complex and global, your performance as a leader depends on your ability to listen, collaborate and influence, skills that have become highly prized as the work becomes more complex, fast paced, volatile and spread geographically across cultures and continents.
Domain expertise and analytical thinking are important in any role, however EC is critical. While running a search for a CXO position, we draw upon models built on hundreds of thousands of profiles that allow us to map accurately the competencies required for a particular role to deliver excellence. The search centres on all three essential competencies viz. emotional, technical & intellectual/cognitive.

An MBA student learns the analytical tools, but what about the EC? It is central to leadership as it means getting others to work towards a common goal, working effectively with each other as a team. A leader uses his/ her EC and removes acrimony among the members, people have emotions, and handling an emotional situation requires EC. The higher you go in the organization, the higher is the need for EC. Some say that as much as 90 per cent of success is attributable to EC. Even on the lower side it is generally accepted to be twice as much as IQ.

As a leader, you need to inspire and guide the team, leadership is about change and how one drives it. An emotionally competent leader energizes the entire organization by transmitting emotional energy. The good thing is that you can continually keep building your EC.

The author is Senior Partner- Leadership & Board practice at Hunt Partners, an Executive Search firm