What makes a good leader? Is it the steely certitude of a General Patton? Was Abraham Lincoln a good leader because he doubted himself, or in spite of his self-doubt? Researchers are realizing that emotional intelligence is an important part of the well-rounded leader. History is replete with examples of leaders whose interpersonal and intrapersonal skills best served their companies, their causes, or their countries.
Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and a Stanford Business School graduate, wrote about CEOs who demonstrate high degrees of emotional intelligence. He picked Fortune 500 companies and interviewed employees, studied speeches and published writing, and evaluated what he called the “emotional thermostat” settings of these leaders. Some highlights:
Princess Diana evinces the apex of emotional intelligence in our modern era. Nobody would have faulted her for slipping into the comfort of royalty. Instead, she reached out to HIV and AIDS patients. More than comfort, she provided a much-needed spotlight. Some celebrities with high emotional intelligence quotients (high EQ) can be the conscience of a country.
Politics literally means “relating to citizens.” We expect our politicians to have emotional intelligence; to understand and empathize with everyone’s problems.
You may notice them first for their fame, but emotionally intelligent leaders in all walks of life endure for their contributions.