The Single Greatest Quality that Separates Average Leaders from Great Leaders...

Hello Friend,

Well…what would you say it is?  Intelligence?  Charisma?  Tenacity?  The ability to think strategically or focus on the big picture?

Author Daniel Goleman would contend that this "single greatest quality" is something else.  In his book What Makes a Leader, Goleman analyzed the competency models of 188 companies around the world, including some very large organizations such as Lucent Technologies and British Airways.  He wanted to understand “which personal capabilities drove outstanding performance within these organizations.”

Do you know what he found?  It wasn’t cognitive ability or IQ or technical skill.  Nope.  The quality that separated the average leaders from the great ones was emotional intelligence or EQ.  Now, before I outline what EQ is, I want to provide one extra detail so that the importance of this will sink in more deeply.  

Guess what else Goleman's research revealed?  When he calculated the value of emotional intelligence against the other capabilities leaders need in order to achieve excellent performance, he found that EQ was TWICE as important as all other capabilities…regardless of the job or level of positional authority.  Did you catch that?!  EQ has 2X the impact on our effectiveness as leaders than any other skill or capacity!

So what is EQ?  Goleman breaks down emotional intelligence into 5 skills that enable leaders to maximize their own performance and the performance of those on their teams.  Take a look and reflect on how much each one of these is reflected in your own life.

  1. Self-Awareness – knowing one’s strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and impact on others.
  2. Self-regulation – controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods.
  3. Motivation – relishing achievement for its own sake.
  4. Empathy – understanding other people’s emotional makeup.
  5. Social skill – building rapport with others to move them in desired directions.

Here are a few questions for reflection...

  • If you have the courage to honestly assess your own level of EQ based on the 5 skills that Goleman outlines above, how would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10?  
  • What does your rating reveal to you about yourself?  
  • Which of these skills represents areas of strength?
  • Which of these skills needs attention?
  • What connection might exist between the grade you gave yourself and some of the frustrations, conflicts or performance issues you are experiencing at work?
  • If you were to focus on developing and improving only one of these five skills (the skill that would have the greatest impact on becoming more successful as a leader), which one would you focus on?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how motivated are you improve in this area?

Ok.  If you've made it this far, you have just taken an incredibly important step.  You have defined reality and in doing so, you've just grown your own level of self-awareness.  Congratulations!  Max Anders writes that, "The leader's first responsibility is to define reality."

But what now?  How can you change and improve?  Great question.  Let's talk about what the change plan might look like in my next post.