Every hour I spend doing this ‘job’ I so love supports my belief that becoming an invincible leader does not come from chest-beating dominance. In fact, what I love about the extraordinary people I get to work with is that their strength comes from their humanity, their openness to admit being scared, confused or even just their ability to say ‘I don’t know’.
Whilst exploring some of the leadership literature recently, I stumbled over a statement by emotional intelligence guru, Daniel Goleman, that stopped me in my tracks - that ‘emotional intelligence is twice as important as intellect in creating leaders’ and with that, 80-100% of the most important characteristics of leaders are those associated with emotional intelligence.
I had to re-read it several times to make sure I’d read it right but then it just seemed so utterly obvious. Think about all the greatest leaders you know personally or in the public domain – be it Ghandi, Martin Luther King or other lesser knowns that you regard as true role models. They really were the most human of humans, displaying extraordinary emotional intelligence and with that, invincible leadership.
It does of course lead us to the question of how much the corporate world focuses their leadership development on areas such as self-awareness, motivation, empathy and compassion? Ironically, Goleman published his seminal work on EI the same year that I joined my first global corporation and yet in my nearly 20 years there, I have not a single memory of a conversation that even drifted close to these subjects.
I’d like to think that despite that, I did lead from a position of humanity (at least most of the time!) and some forward-thinking organisations like Google are getting there but I’m clearer than ever that if we can give up on the idea of creating super-humans and instead create a world of super humans, we will have invincible leaders, successful organisations and a better world.
Listen up politicians…