“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire us to give the best of us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we generally talk about strategy, vision or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more basic: great leadership works through emotions”. Thus Daniel Goleman opens his Primal leadership – Unleashing the power of Emotional Intelligence. A psychologist and scientific journalist, Goleman has dedicated his research activity to the link between emotions and leadership by developing the key concept of emotional intelligence (the title of his 1995 best seller), ie the ability to recognize one's own emotions, those of others and manage them to interact constructively with those around us.
“The ability to manage oneself, to be aware and to know how to self regulate is the basis for learning how to manage others. Great leaders are such because, first of all, they know how to drive themselves”, Goleman summed up in a recent interview for Forbes. Basic principles from which a model consisting of four domains and 12 competencies is derived. More precisely: Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management.
The ability to manage oneself, to be aware and to know how to regulate is the basis for learning how to manage others. The great leaders are such because, first of all, they know how to drive themselves
This is a mix of qualities that, at a time of hyper-specialization and the race for the acquisition of new skills (in the hope that they will help build a winning CV), can make the difference. Above all, at a managerial level, where decision-making becomes increasingly important for the future of the business and cannot be left to the mercy of emotions. On the other hand, as Goleman often remembers, “talented leaders emerge where heart and head, emotions and thoughts meet”. How, though, is it possible to train emotional intelligence? The first step is to develop one's internal strength, that lucid glance on ourselves that evolves and clears as we learn, grow and experience new paths making us more adaptable, transparent and positive towards the outside. Secondly, we need to work to build a culture of compassion. Not in the sense of pity towards someone, but in recognition of the emotions of others. Something that is doubly important if you work in a team, trusting each other. Third, is to strengthen relationships through open and continuous communication, which does not stop at the difference in levels of responsibility within a company. This goes hand in hand with the availability of continuous training, perhaps through example. Finally, we must learn how to combine quantitative and qualitative analysis, especially in assessing the performance of the person in front of us, in order to give them the right merit and to convey the trust that is placed in their abilities.
The art of leadership consists in bringing and keeping people in the highest level of performance levels, and this happens when people are in the best state of personal wellbeing
In other words, the art of leadership based on emotional intelligence means centering objectives through the quality of the work of others. “The art of leadership – says Goleman – consists in bringing and keeping people in the highest performance levels, and this happens when people are in the best state of personal wellbeing. It is an optimal state called Flow, in which the person is astonished by the results they obtain, and defined through research on the most diverse professionals, from dancers to chess players, from top managers to the military”.
But how can one create such a situation? “One way is to establish clear rules and objectives, but to leave some flexibility on how to achieve them. Another is immediate feedback. The third is to test and grow skills, and try to match what people can do with the tasks assigned to them”.