Development of Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Development of Emotional Intelligence (EI)

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The development of Emotional Intelligence requires a recognition of one's own strengths and limitations, an exploration of how current decisions are framed through beliefs and prior experiences, and the actualisation of potential by using the greater self knowledge gained. However, in a report by the Institute of Management (2002) research showed that the quality of leadership in the workplace was poor. Further, the research reinforces a positive relationship between financial turnover and the priority given to leadership development (Institute of Management, 2002). Fifty-five percent of those questioned gave the characteristic of being inspiring as the most important attribute of leadership, but only eleven percent say they are witnessing it at work.

Inspiration could be defined as the extent to which a leader stimulates enthusiasm amongst subordinates for the work of the group, and says things to build their confidence in their ability to successfully perform assignments and attain group objectives. In those organisations that do invest in bringing out the potential of their leaders it could be argued that a focus on working relationships could be considered most valuable. Again, it could be argued that self-and-other awareness is a prerequisite for developing these working relationships. In today’s younger managers, knowledge and ambition are identified as traits that are not valued leadership qualities (Institute of Management, 2001).

The research by the Institute of Management goes on to say that a majority of executives favoured a model of leadership in which the leaders main role is to create a sense of purpose and a central vision or set of goals, and then help bring out the potential of others around them to achieve such goals (Institute of Management 2001). In times of economic change where there is a run down of the old structure of commerce, new fields of commerce are sought, in part, by innovation. Innovation can be seen as the "successful exploitation of new ideas" (The Scottish Office, 1996). To help exploit new ideas we need inspiring leaders.

Leadership’s underlying constructs are inspiration and individualised consideration, entailing shifts in the beliefs, needs and values of the followers (Fiedler, 1996). The transforming leaders' behaviours emanate from deeply held beliefs and values, such as justice and integrity (Fiedler, 1996). Fiedler (1996) argues that past research into leadership has been focused on traits and abilities, and that the most important lesson over the past forty years is that the leadership of groups and organisations is a highly complex interaction between the individual and the social and task environment.

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Therefore, it could be argued that Leadership research has overlooked Leadership being a social process. How well the leader's particular style, abilities, and background contribute to performance is largely contingent on the control and influence the leadership situation provides. As Feidler (1996) states, if leadership was easy to understand, we would have all the answers long before now. The leadership processes are highly complex.

This principle still has to be translated into practice. Fiedler (1996) goes on to say "we cannot make leaders more intelligent or more creative, but we can design situations that allow leaders to utilise their intellectual abilities, expertise and experience more effectively. In this highly competitive age, this is likely to be of considerable practical importance." Nevertheless, as Goleman (2000) argues, effective leadership still eludes many people and organisations. Goleman (2000) states that leaders who get the best results don’t rely on just one leadership style; they use any of six distinct leadership styles in any given week. These leadership styles each spring from different components of emotional intelligence.

The attributes of self-and-other awareness, empathy and active listening skills will be used in this paper as a working definition of Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1995). But it should also be recognised that managers may also find it difficult to adjust styles in practice. For example, other awareness needs listening skills and empathy (Markova, 1987). From a psychological perspective these skills sound simple but in reality they are not. Nevertheless, due to re-engineering in companies, managers now have to be skilled at travelling the style spectrum, even though they may naturally prefer their own approach. Therefore, anything that helps our understanding of the field of 21st century leadership should surely be worth reviewing.
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