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Emotional Intelligence Essay

The article titled, The Emotional Intelligence of Leaders, written by Daniel Goleman, emphasizes on the emotional intelligence aspect of leadership and discusses various points regarding emotional intelligence in leaders and in people in general. There is a clear separation of raw intelligence technical expertise from that of emotional intelligence. It is explained that raw intelligence and technical expertise are the basic skills and capabilities required of a leader, but that emotional intelligence is the element that, combined with the basic skills, makes up a successful leader.

It involves demonstrating qualities of the heart, in that leaders should be able to connect with people on a human level, in addition to possessing the basic leadership skills. Following the discussion of the anatomy of emotions, the article describes that there are five main elements of emotional intelligence that are explained in the article, including self-awareness, managing emotions, motivating others, showing empathy, and staying connected, which is then proceeded by a discussion of raising your EQ.

In the discussion of the anatomy of emotions, the amygdala is said to be a structure in the limbic system that stores emotional memory and perceptions. Some of these memories can include being happy, sad, and angry. When a situation occurs, you go back to your emotional memory to process a response or reaction.

The first main element of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. In terms of leadership, self-awareness is described as a capability that allows one to have and to practice self-confidence and self-assessment. Self-assessment allows you to pay attention and properly assess the natural feelings that occur when faced with situations or decisions as a leader. It is important for a leader to have these natural gut feelings and to appropriately process and incorporate these feelings into leadership decisions. In doing so, a leader will possess a sense of self-confidence in their actions and decision making. It is what gives a person the sense of gallantry in their leadership role.

The second element of emotional intelligence is managing emotions, which is explained as the ability to deal with one’s own stress and impulsivity, especially in terms of anger, anxiety, and sadness. In doing so, one can pay more attention to situations and decisions that they are faced with as a leader, and less attention on the emotional disturbance that is faced with being rudderless in managing their emotions. By managing your emotions and practicing self-control, leaders can avoid poor decision making and will demonstrate improved leadership abilities.

The next element described is motivating others, which involves management and leaders to be able to emotionally motivate and inspire others. Optimism is explained to be an important aspect of motivating others. It is said that the optimist can deal with setbacks better than the pessimist. In the event of a setback, an optimist leader would be able to overcome the issue and try again, learning from the setback and striving to push forward toward the goal or mission. Whereas the pessimist would give up, demonstrating a lack of ability to motivate their team. The ability to motivate others is a strong quality of emotional intelligence in leadership.

Another element described in the article is showing empathy, which is the ability to read emotions of others, and again, connecting with people on a human level. Empathy shows your team a sense of connection and that you care about what they are feeling. Often, when empathy is not present, people can feel unappreciated and disconnected, leaving them overwhelmed and probably not at their best performance. It is crucial that leaders stay connected and in tune with their workforce.

The last element is staying connected, which describes the ability to make and maintain a connection with your people. A leader should demonstrate a positive presence, and show their keenness and optimistic attitudes as this will reflect on their team and, most likely, will have a direct affect on how their workforce reacts. Expressing these kinds of emotions will surely have an influence on the team. Additionally, this will also contribute to the team’s potential and performance, which is always a goal of a manager or leader.

The final section of the article explains the ability to raise your EQ – or emotional intelligence. It is the qualities of the heart that make up one’s emotional intelligence, and although much of it comes naturally, some can still be taught. It takes desire, dedication, and coaching to successfully increase your emotional intelligence.

In summary, it is emotional intelligence and the ability to connect with people on a human level, including understanding people’s emotions as well as expressing your own in an appropriate leadership manner, that gives leaders the fully rounded skill set to effectively lead people. Leaders should certainly possess raw intelligence and technical expertise, but more importantly, they must know how to connect with their teams and stay in touch with their emotions, as well as demonstrate positive emotions themselves. Emotional intelligence is something that can be learned, but is also a human ability that can come naturally to many at a young age. Leaders, in any environment, should understand the importance of emotional intelligence and the effects that it has on themselves, their teams, and the overall performance within their groups.

The article titled, Thought Leadership: a radical departure from traditional, positional leadership, written by Mitch McCrimmon, discusses the differences of shared or distributed leadership, leaderful organizations, and thought leadership, while focusing on thought leadership as a new and emerging leadership style that is shaped differently from the traditional positional leadership style. There are three main sections of the article, including new leadership, what is thought leadership, and the key characteristics of thought leadership.

In discussing _the new leadership_ style of thought leadership, the article explains that, unlike leaderful organizations and shared leadership, thought leadership does not involve the traditional managerial roles that are identified as leaders. Rather, the thought leadership involves individual innovative employees that demonstrate an ability to challenge a current status or process and provide new ideas to better a project or an organization as a whole.

The discussion of _what is thought leadership_ provides insight of the abilities of a thought leader, and describes some skills that thought leaders do not need to possess. A though leader has the abilities to advocate new ideas that merit attention, whether by corporate management, co-workers, customers, and even market industries. An individual possessing this type of leadership style can be thought of as innovative individual and a thinker. Thought leaders, however, do not need to possess the traditional positional managerial skills, and can even lack the typical leadership skills, such and motivational skills. In fact, thought leaders to not need to oversee projects, be decision-makers, or manage task execution. The new idea can be presented in discussion, argument, and by presentation. It is usually up to a hierarchical management team to actually execute the new idea.

The final section consisted of the _key characteristics of thought leadership_, in which some key points are identified. Just to name a few, thought leadership does not always start with management and work downward. In fact, it can start with employees and move upward to a management level. It is not limited to internal sources, and can originate from external sources outside of an organization. Thought leadership is typically not tasked or identified as a position in an organization, but is a naturally organic ability. However, in most cases, it requires some ability to influence or convince people that the new idea will provide value.

In summary, thought leadership differs from the traditional positional leadership, such as shared leadership and leaderful organizations, in that it does not require the typical managerial and leadership skills. It relies on individual innovativeness and the ability to convey your new ideas and convince that your ideas will provide value.

Of the two articles summarized, I believe that the article on emotional intelligence was more convincing. I say this because the article on thought leadership was more informational and provided a different outlook on leadership styles and abilities, whereas the article on emotional intelligence pointed out a type of intelligence that is required to be a good leader. Emotional intelligence allows us to connect with our emotions, and the emotions of our teams, which I believe is critical in almost any leadership role where a group of people report to one first-line leader. That one leader should be able to relate to the human senses that drive people, and motivate them as employees and people, as well as encourage them to excel.

In my own personal experiences, I have seen an extreme lack of ability in leaders to connect with people and deal with emotions, whether their own emotions or their teams emotions. This has surely led to my perception of incompetence in these particular leaders. In one situation, I had a leader that I felt very fond of and very confident in their ability to lead, until one day they showed a moment of breaking down (actually crying in the office) and it left me feeling a poor sense of morale in the organization and the leadership at hand. I think the emotional display was unnecessary and should have been handled privately. In this case, the individual lacked the ability to manage their emotions.

With respect to thought leadership, I have not had any prior introduction to the topic, but in reading and understanding the article, I believe that I possess some thought leadership abilities. I say this because I often offer new ideas to improve processes and operations. In my most recent job, I came on board and within two weeks, identified several areas that needed improvement and offered ideas to improve these processes. With approval from management, I began to execute these new processes. Understanding that it is not necessarily up the thought leader to actually execute, I was faced with a lack of resources and decided to take the initiative to fully execute.

In comparison, I believe that emotional intelligence is required to be a good leader, and a thought leader is not required to be emotionally intelligent; however; emotional intelligence should be a quality of most leaders. As stated in the Thought Leadership article, “emotional intelligence is not essential for thought leadership.” () As both aspects of leadership are great abilities to possess, they are not both required to be any particular type of leader. Personally, I believe that as a thought leader can live in anyone, it takes a special ability to be in touch with your emotions and the emotions of the team, an ability that I believe is especially crucial in leading people.


Goleman, D. (1998). The Emotional Intelligence of Leaders. _Leader to Leader_, (10), 20-26. Retrieved from Business Source Complete database.

McCrimmon, M. (2005). Thought leadership: a radical departure from traditional, positional leadership. _Management Decision_, 43(7/8), 1064-1070. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global.

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