Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1637 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Leadership

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

In the recent past, the issue of Emotional Intelligence has gained significant prominence in leadership circles. This is more so the case after Daniel Goleman authored a book, Emotional Intelligence, which extensively explored the topic and its relevance to leadership. What is emotional intelligence and why is it so important? What are the key differences between transactional leaders and transformational leaders? In addition to addressing these queries, I will also be discussing who amongst a transactional leader and a transformational leader is likely to better take a group's pulse, understand its concerns and thought patterns, as well as communicate effectively with people.

Emotional Intelligence

Many character assessment studies have been conducted in the past in an attempt to determine why some people prosper as leaders as other fail. A review of leadership literature identifies some of the main characteristics of a good leader as courage, determination, as well as confidence and charisma. Daniel Goleman is however convinced that there is a common characteristic that all leaders share. In Goleman's own words, "most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence" (Goleman, 2004). The author is however quick to note that technical skills as well as IQ are also important components of effective leadership. However, in relation to emotional intelligence, these components should largely be viewed as "entry-level requirements for executive positions." Thus in the final analysis, emotional intelligence is the common characteristic that all successful leaders share. But what exactly is emotional intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence according to Goleman (as cited in Armstrong, 2006) is "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and that of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves as well as others." In that regard, emotional intelligence should in short be seen as the ability of an individual to manage not only his or her own emotions but also those of others around him or her. Thus in addition to mastering their feelings, leaders with a high degree of emotional intelligence are likely to accurately assess the impact of their emotions on other people. Some of the key elements/components of emotional intelligence identified by Goleman (2004) include "self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skill." The success of a leader is largely dependent on the effective management of these elements.

Self-awareness in this context according to Goleman (2004) has got to do with the ability of a leader to not only understand but also recognize his or her drives, emotions, as well as needs. This component is characterized by self-confidence amongst other things. When it comes to self-regulation, Goleman (2004) defines the same as the ability of a leader to either control or rein in his or her moods or impulses that appear disruptive. Leaders who are able to effectively regulate themselves are less likely to stereotype followers or make decisions that appear rushed or emotional. Indeed, as Goleman (2004) points out, leaders of this kind tend to think before acting. Motivation on the other hand is in basic terms the ability of a leader to keep advancing towards his or her goals in the face of challenges. Motivated leaders pursue their goals relentlessly and for this reason, money cannot be regarded their main driving force (Goleman, 2004). Next, we have empathy which in Goleman's opinion is the ability of a leader to understand his or her followers' emotional makeup. A leader with empathy can easily see things from the perspective of other people and for this reason; such a leader is unlikely to be unfair to his or her followers. Lastly, social skills have got to do with the proficiency of a leader in not only the management of relationships but also the emotional management of followers (Goleman, 2004). On this front, a leader should be an effective communicator.

Transactional Leaders and Transformational Leaders

The leadership styles of different leaders vary widely. For instance, whereas some leaders prefer to micromanage teams, others adopt a more hands-off approach in the management of the said teams. Further, leaders also apply a variety of approaches in their motivation of employees towards the attainment of organizational goals. When it comes to the management as well as motivation of individuals, transformational and transactional approaches to leadership happen to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Transformational leaders according to Daft and Lane (2009) have a unique ability to bring about both change and transformation. This they do by not only recognizing the concerns and needs of followers but also by helping them find new and unique solutions to problems (Daft, Kendrick, and Vershinina, 2010). Given their ability to provide consideration that is largely individualized, transformational leaders are especially good at managing the emotions of their followers. Indeed, it is by developing a strong emotional bond with their followers that transformational leaders motivate the said followers to action. Unlike is the case with transactional leadership, followers in this case are motivated not by the exchange of rewards but by the desire to ensure that a given task or undertaking is completed. Transformational leaders are hence rather skillful when it comes to the creation of a positive mindset in the minds of their followers. For these and many other reasons, Daft and Lane (2009) are convinced that transformational leaders are better suited to bring about change. It is also important to note that while organizational conditions are seen as being relatively stable in transactional leadership, transformational leadership not only recognizes the need for change but it also deems change as being a continuous process (Wart, 2012). Having a transformational leader at the helm may therefore prove beneficial to an organization as it seeks to achieve long-term growth. As Bertocci (2009) points out, transformational leaders discourage their followers from working for short-term self-interests.

When it comes to transactional leadership, there is a somewhat direct link between rewards and efforts and as Lussier and Achua (2009) point out, it is for this reason that this approach to leadership is often referred to as contingent reward leadership. In this case, the leader is largely concerned with the exchange of rewards (monetary or otherwise) for performance. Transactional leaders also largely concern themselves with the maintenance of the normal flow of operations. Their focus (unlike that of transformational leaders) may not therefore be necessarily long-term. They make use of rewards (as a form of motivation) and disciplinary power so as to ensure that their followers do not lose focus of the task at hand. Rewards in this case include but they are not in any way limited to salary increments, promotions, etc. Punishments on the other hand could include demotions. For the reasons above, Daft and Lane (2009) point out that although it is still regarded important for most organizations; transactional leadership is not the best leadership approach to adapt when it comes to the management of change. While this leadership style may come in handy when there is a need to maintain the culture of the organization, it fails to correctly capture the role of human emotions in the accomplishment of tasks.

Different situations require different approaches to management. In the section below, I discuss which approach to management/leadership would be most suitable given the specifics of the scenario presented.

Leadership Style and Emotional Intelligence

Based on the comparison of transformational and transactional leaders above, it is clear that a transformational leader would be in a better position to take a group's pulse, understand both its concerns and thoughts, and communicate effectively with others. From the onset, it is important to note that as I have already pointed out above, transformational leaders are able to easily identify with the needs as well as concerns of their followers (Daft, Kendrick, and Vershinina, 2010). What this means… [END OF PREVIEW]

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