Emotional intelligence is a discipline that describes a person’s self-awareness, self-confidence, self-control, commitment and integrity, as well as a person’s ability to communicate, influence, initiate and accept change. From previous studies, it is evident that emotional intelligence shapes a leader’s ability to be efficient and effective. The ability of a leader to possess emotional intelligence revolves around important aspects that include self-awareness, communication and influence, commitment and integrity. These aspects are crucial for every leader’s ability to make effective decisions and timely judgments. Managers who do not develop their emotional intelligence have difficulty in building good relationships with peers, subordinates, superiors and clients (Goleman 1998).
Emotional intelligence in organizations
In an organizational set up, emotional intelligence refers mainly to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions of employees. Emotional intelligence is a natural/inborn trait while other researchers suggest that it is possible to perceive it through learning and strengthening. Emotional intelligence combines a number of competencies. It brings out the skills, which contribute to a person’s ability in managing and monitoring their own emotions, to try and exactly gauge the emotional condition of others in the view of influencing their opinions (Goleman 1995).
In another perspective, emotional intelligence is a subset of social intelligence that involves the ability of monitoring one’s personal and others’ feelings as well as their emotions for the purpose of not discriminating among them but using this information in guiding one’s thinking and actions. Emotional intelligence is applicable in four different branches in organizational management. The first branch perceives emotions. This is the first step in understanding accurate perception of emotions. In most cases, it might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as facial expressions and body languages (Ryback 1998).
The second branch is reasoning with emotions, which involves using emotions to enhance thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions are helpful in prioritizing our attention and reaction. We always respond emotionally to things garnering our attention. The third branch involves understanding emotions. Emotions we perceive can carry a wide range of meanings. If a person is expressing angry emotions, the observer should interpret the cause of anger and its meaning.
The last branch is managing emotions. This is the last branch dealing with the ability to manage emotions effectively as a key part of emotional intelligence. To regulate emotions, respond appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all-important aspect of emotional management (Perrella 1999).
Relevance of emotional intelligence to modern organizations
Managing modern organizations is a challenging task. Organizations have changed drastically in the way that they carry out their work in the last 20 years. Because of this, management levels have reduced in number and management styles have become less autocratic than they used to be. However, at the lower levels in modern organizations there is a dedicated move towards knowledge sharing and team-based tasks. In addition, assigning employees client-oriented jobs helps them in having autonomy on their duties and responsibilities (Sosik & Megerian 1999).
The aim of modern organizations has always been improving on the performance of employees. Managers recognize this objective and are able to quantify the measurable benefits that inculcates from a good emotional intelligence capability of leaders. In example, the benefits that can be attributable to emotional intelligence in modern organizations include increased sales, better employee recruitment and retention, and an efficient and effective leadership (Miller 1999).
Naturally, modern organizations have various criteria for quantifying their success rate at which employees deliver at work. The existence of emotional intelligence in modern organizations makes it possible for employee judgment through new yardsticks like the dignity with which they handle themselves and others. This differs from past ideologies where employee’s judgment is by how smart they are; the level of training and expertise they have attained. Modern organizations that inculcate emotional intelligence are strongly influenced by employees’ personal qualities such as perseverance, self-control, and people handling skills (Mayer et al. 2001).
Increasingly, these new yardsticks are applicable while choosing who is to be hired, the employees to be relieved of their duties and employees to be retained, and employees to be promoted. The discipline of emotional intelligence is vital, because it links conventional abilities of job performance determinants with dispositional determinants. Modern organizational leaders create and manage a working environment that combines flexibility, responsibility, standards and commitment (Luthans 1998).
Good leadership comprises of certain leadership traits that are debatable and all leaders share common traits in the way they carry out their duties. The first common trait among all the leaders is having a guiding vision or purpose. A good leader sets his or her goals on what he or she expects to achieve professionally and has the urge to pursue their choices regardless of existing setbacks. Through the advent of emotional intelligence, a good leader is passionate or enthusiastic and possesses the ability to communicate with others passionately (Mayer et al. 2001).
Another benefit that emotional intelligence brings to an organization is integrity, which consists of three basic ingredients: self-knowledge, candor, and maturity. Self-knowledge is the ability to know one’s strengths and weaknesses. Candor is an ingredient in integrity that describes one’s honesty with him or herself. The last ingredient of integrity is maturity, which results from lessons learned through observation of other employees, dedicating one to learning, and working as a team. Modern organizational leaders want to continue learning as much as possible in order to be at par with the ever-changing technologies and are risk takers who are willing to go an extra mile (Goleman 1995).
In conclusion, a good leader in an organization is required to possess emotional intelligence as it helps him or her in aligning personal and subordinate goals in accomplishing the overall organizational goals. Modern organizations at all levels have specific important responsibilities that a leader has to implement in managing an organization. A leader has to give ownership to the workers who carry out the various tasks. Secondly, a leader needs to cultivate an environment that appeals to the employees so that they enjoy taking responsibilities for their actions and performances.
The next important attribute that a leader should inculcate in an organization is enabling the employees with opportunities that they can use to develop on their abilities and skills. Lastly, a good leader should create a culture that demands improvement in work output of everyone in the organization him or her inclusive. This will eventually pose a challenge to the employees to learn new skills and ideas on a daily basis. Through these four principles, a leader will be able to uplift the organization to a higher level and align company goals to the employees’ individual goals (Copper 1997).
Copper, RK 1997, ‘Applying Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace’, Training & Development, vol. 51, no. 12, pp. 31-38.
Goleman, D 1995, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Bantam Books, New York.
Goleman, D 1998, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, New York.
Luthans, F 1998, Organizational Behavior, McGraw-Hill, Boston.
Mayer, JD, Salovey, P, Caruso, DL & Sitarenios, G 2001, ‘Emotional intelligence as a standard intelligence’, Emotion, vol. 1, pp. 232-242.
Miller, M 1999, ‘Emotional Intelligence Helps Managers Succeed’, Credit Union Magazine, vol. 56, no. 7, pp. 25-26.
Perrella, JE 1999, The Importance of Working Together: Individuals add; team players multiply. Vital Speeches of the Day, City News Publishing Company, New York.
Ryback, D 1998, Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work: Successful Leadership is More Than IQ, Butterwork-Heinemann, Boston.
Sosik, JJ & Megerian, LE 1999, ‘Understanding Leader Emotional Intelligence and Performance’, Group & Organization Management, vol. 24, no.3, pp. 367-390.