PEOPLE aren’t necessarily born as leaders but they can be made into leaders.
This is one of the central premises of the school of emotional intelligence, a tool used by some human resources experts.
Hay Group associate director Paul Power said good leaders were those who could manage their emotions and manage their relationships with others.
He said studies showed that people who acted on impulse tended to have poorer results than those who took the time to think something through.
“One of the things about emotional intelligence is based on neuro science research that has found our emotions often react faster than our intelligence does,” Dr Power said.
It is this stop-and-think approach that is at the heart of emotional intelligence.
Dr Power said good leaders need-ed to have the basic building blocks of leadership and that these emotional intelligence attributes could be added.
“One of the things people can do is think about the best boss that they ever had, or somebody like [Australian Defence Force chief] Peter Cosgrove,” Dr Power said.
“What is it about them that’s different? After all, they seem to be doing it naturally.
“In reality they’ve learnt to manage their own behaviour in a way that draws the best out of the people they’re leading but are keeping their own integrity and lifestyle so that they don’t become stressed out by acting against their instincts.”
Dr Power said most leaders tended to act instinctively because that was the way they had learned to act from other leaders.
“Most leaders are often selected for their talent in a particular field, be it law, chemistry, sales or finance,” he said.
“They continue to operate the same way they did in their particular field of expertise when they get into leadership roles.
“However, high performance leadership is about choosing how you behave.
“To do that, people in leadership roles have to learn more about themselves and how they manage their own emotions. The leadership journey starts with one’s self.”
US-based researchers Daniel Goldman and Richard Boyatzis are responsible for much of the research work on emotional intelligence.
According to Dr Power’s 1998 book, Working with emotional intelligence, US companies wasted $6 billion on training and development programs that had no positive effect.
He said research showed that, where global companies had been choosing people based on their skills and knowledge of a particular industry, they had suffered turnover rates of 50 per cent.
“When they switched to choosing people based on their emotional skills that turnover rate dropped
to 6 per cent,” Dr Power said.
“Sales managers with emotional intelligence skills consistently beat their targets, while those without them did not.
“A study of doctors found that the patients of those with emotional intelligence qualities healed quicker than the patients of those without them.
“Things such as IQ and technical skills are often necessary to do the job. The really outstanding people are those who have those technical skills plus these other emotional intelligence qualities.”
Dr Power said Professor Boyatzis had done a lot of work and studies that showed that if companies wanted to promote change they had to engage their staff’s hearts as well as their minds.
“What these studies discovered is that these change programs had to confront people almost to the point of showing them how ineffective they were if they acted on impulse and why they needed to change,” he said.
“The program needs to involve coaching, mentoring and peer support. If people do that kind of program then they can develop these attributes.”
Dr Power said there were some individuals who had developed emotional intelligence skills without any help.
“However, these people are very rare,” he said.
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