My colleague and the co-founder of The Junto Institute, Raman Chadha, recently shared with groups of aspiring entrepreneurs the connection between emotional intelligence and successful leadership.
There are many definitions of emotional intelligence (EI), but all similarly state that it’s the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. In other words, the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions.
Some researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and improved, while others believe it to be an inborn characteristic.
The demographics of Raman’s audiences were similar - mostly young men and women with a small representation of more seasoned entrepreneurs. It wasn’t surprising to us that there were so many Millennials in the audiences. They’re increasingly starting companies and seem to have a greater interest in the subject matter.
I overheard one of the participants state that she had never heard of the term “emotional intelligence” so would never be able to learn the concept.
She is wrong. All of us can build and improve our EI.
Another stated that, although he also was unfamiliar with the concept prior to the chat, he believes he is “exceptionally” emotionally intelligent.
He is probably wrong. Surely there are some very impressive individuals who have the innate ability to empathize and adjust their leadership style accordingly. However, most of us have to pay great attention to the four basic pillars of EI:
- Social Awareness
- Relationship Building
The Junto Institute, including its Apprentices and Alumni, support the idea that EI can be sharpened. Leadership improvements of the participants through the Junto program have been measured qualitatively and quantitatively (ex: through the growth of sales and profits). Most importantly, they share countless stories of how their practice of emotionally intelligent behaviors is improving their day-to-day interactions and personal awareness.
They have become better leaders and so can you.