Video: What is Emotional Intelligence & Why Is It Important
The Rise and Fall of Frank the Manager
(Rule Your Feelings, Lest Your Feelings Rule You. -- Publilius Syrus)
Frank was a successful manager known for his ability to tackle tough organizational problems and get results. He excelled at assessing situations, making decisions, and taking ownership of projects.
Frank quickly rose from a small divisional manager role in an important department to more senior roles in the organization. With each success, he continued to lobby the organization's senior leadership to increase his functional responsibilities by giving him bigger and tougher organizational problems to solve. He quickly rose through the senior ranks of management.
Frank made no secret that his goal was to be in the executive suite. He was confident that he would end up there and many in the organization believed it was inevitable. Frank did not end up in the executive suite, however. In fact, his career stalled and senior leadership eventually reassigned much of his organizational area to other managers.
What happened to this talented manager? Why did his career path to the executive suite veer off course?
The organizational gossip about Frank's decline centered on his tendencies to micromanage his managers (including his superstars) and his inability to delegate independent authority to his managers to complete the duties he gave them. Frank was able to get by with this behavior at the lower levels of management but this behavior became problematic as his organizational scope grew.
Eventually, Frank led an organization that was too large for this level of management control. He started getting poor results and he accrued large budget deficits as he struggled to meet his objectives.
The organizational gossip about Frank's decline was accurate, but only to an extent. Frank's tendencies to micromanage and not delegate authority to his managers were symptoms --- symptoms of a bigger problem. The root of Frank's problem was that he lacked emotional intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
So, what is emotional intelligence?
As the video above explained, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage emotions and relationships.
The term emotional intelligence comes from the work of researchers Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer (Daniel Goleman later popularized their work in his book, Emotional Intelligence).
In their work, Salovey and Mayer concluded that people with emotional intelligence do the following:
- They understand their own emotions (positive and negative).
- They understand the emotions of others (positive and negative).
- They are effective at regulating their emotions effectively to pursue their goals.
- They are effective at influencing positive emotions in others.
The saying charity begins at home also applies to emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence begins with a leader recognizing and then managing his or her own emotions. When a leaders is able to do this, he or she can begin to improve their own credibility with others.
The next step for emotional intelligence is to recognize and manage the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence has the following five dimensions:
- Self Awareness - Being aware of your emotions (understanding what you are feeling)
- Self Motivation - Ability to persist in the face of obstacles and setbacks (influencing constructive emotions in yourself)
- Self Management - Ability to effectively manage your emotions and impulses (controlling your destructive emotions)
- Empathy - Sensing how others are feeling (understanding what others are feeling)
- Social Skills - Ability to effectively handle the emotions of others
Frank the Manager and Emotional Intelligence
Frank's rise and fall as a manager explains why leaders need emotional intelligence.
Frank was unable to understand and manage his own emotions. This lack of self awareness and accountability meant he also could not understand and manage the emotions of his team.
Frank's emotional handicap was his fear.
What was Frank's fear?
Basically, he feared that he would lose control of his organizational area if he stopped micromanaging everything. He feared that he could be replaced or eliminated if his managers did their jobs too well. He feared that he could no longer maintain control over his managers if he gave them the full authority that they rightfully needed to do their jobs.
With this mindset, Frank became an obstacle to his own success. Operations slowed to a halt as he retained all organizational decision making and budget authority. Talented managers who were capable of making significant decisions found that Frank had to say yes or no to everything before ANYTHING could happen.
Frank's managers became increasingly frustrated with what they perceived to be his "meddling" in their operations. Some of his best managers took jobs elsewhere and those that remained in Frank's organization focused on staying out of his way rather than getting the best results for their units.
Senior leadership took notice that Frank lacked the skills and temperament to lead his managers effectively. They gave "his promotion" to another manager who knew how to work effectively with his management team. Frank lacked emotional intelligence and this ultimately led to his downfall. Emotional intelligence is a critical skill for effective management and leadership.
Emotional intelligence is a critical skill for effective management and leadership. Nothing tells employees that it is every person for themselves than having a manager who has an emotional meltdown whenever a crisis occurs. Click To Tweet
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
The story of Frank is common.
Many managers have known someone like Frank. Others, may have been "Frank" earlier in their leadership development.
Frank's story shows why leaders need emotional intelligence. Organizations produce poor outcomes when negative emotions are out of control. The dysfunction includes unmet business goals, decline in organizational productivity, strained work relationships, and increased absenteeism and organizational turnover.
The following infographic1 provides some useful statistical information on why emotional intelligence is critical to effective management and leadership:
1Infographic courtesy of Pearson Online Education. To access this infographic click here.