Intelligence, emotional intelligence, and leadership

The Nut Gatherers by William Adolphe Bouguereau
The Nut Gatherers by William Adolphe Bouguereau

Sometimes, we can read a lot of articles showing emotional intelligence as an extremely good factor for management in front of the traditional concept of intelligence. I do not like the expression of emotional intelligence although I can agree with the concept under that expression.

Emotions are opposite to reason in the same way as animal instincts are opposite to civilization. The expression emotional intelligence is usually linked to positive emotions that improve our way to interact with other people. Reasoning is seen sometimes as something personal and in the field of human resources many experts defend to take advantage of feelings in order to improve the communication and collaboration of a group. Some of these people see reason as the support of individualism and emotions as the support of collaboration. This is an erroneous viewpoint. Emotions can make us either better collaborators or more individualistic, however reason provides always a better basement in order that a group can agree.

Reason is supported by external and objective facts while emotions are supported by internal feelings. The concept of emotional intelligence is better related to the use of intelligence in order to control the emotions in a positive way than the use feelings to improve relationships. Intelligence is the capability to analyze the environment and to plan some kind of strategy or actions in order to take advantage of it. Our environment in any organization is full of other people. The truly intelligent person will usually search for improving the relationships with their fellows, especially with those ones that provide more value to their own activity in the organization.

When I was younger I was very shy, however, I was considered as a very intelligent person too. Those facts produced in me the need to improve the way that I was establishing relations with other people. Emotional intelligence is related to the assumption that other people can provide value to your objectives and we must learn to find the way to become attractive for them.

Emotional intelligence is the use of intelligence to analyze the emotions of the people nearby in order to support a group of common interests instead of the use of emotions in order to substitute intelligence. Emotional intelligence is related empathy. People with empathy can understand the position of other people and they act trying to respect their feelings and needs in order to make collaboration more effective for the group. Emotional intelligence is not a matter of sympathy. It is mostly a matter of respect.

Leadership is very linked to this concept of emotional intelligence. Leaders are people that can produce a strong influence in a group. They can improve the cohesion of the group and the can drive it. Leadership is very linked to the understanding of what kind of things is motivating the people at the group.

Authority is the prestige or credit that let people at the group to recognize the legitimacy or quality of the manager to be in command. A manager’s authority is supported mostly by knowledge however leadership can be supported by empathy. The traditional concept of intelligence is related to the capability to acquire knowledge, then it is related to the capability the acquire authority. Leadership can be supported empathy, then, it can be more related to emotional intelligence.

Management is not a matter of emotional leadership. It is mostly a matter of authority. The manager must have the knowledge required to drive the organization to a better future in order to preserve that authority. Managers are not needed to make people happy, although it is true that happy people work better. Managers are required to drive the organization and to preserve it in a good state. On the other hand, emotional intelligence lets that the manager can understand better how other people at the organization are working and it lets that the manager can get that his decisions are accepted willingly. Emotional intelligence improves the effectiveness and the efficiency of the managing actions although it cannot substitute some kind authority that is required by a leader in order to preserve the command. Leadership is always supported by some kind authority, either legal (provided by the society) or moral (provided by the knowledge and/or performance).


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