Becoming an effective leader

Outcome 1 

1.2 - Use theories of emotional intelligence to review the effect of emotions on own and others’ performance

Emotional Intelligence

There is increasing recognition that EI plays a major role in leadership and in organisational success:


Fiest and Baron found when studying 80 PhD graduates from Berkeley University that social  and  emotional  abilities  was  significantly  more  important  than  Intelligence Quotient  (IQ)  in  determining  professional  and  career  success.  Hunter  and  Hunter (1994) considered that IQ accounts for about 25% of variance in people’s performance at work. They asserted that people with high IQ do not necessarily perform well and that IQ of itself is not a very good predictor of job performance.


Snarey and Valliant conducted a longitudinal study of 450 boys who grew up in Massachusetts. Two thirds of the boys were from disadvantaged families and 1/3 had IQs below 90. The research suggested that IQ had very little to do with how well they did at work or in other areas of their life. What made the biggest difference was childhood abilities such as being able to handle frustration, control emotions and to relate well with other people.


Emotions have the potential to unite and create bonds between people and negative feelings are indicators of unfulfilled emotional needs.


Understanding Emotional Literacy


To be effective in the application of emotional intelligence, we need to be able to identify and label emotions as we experience them. We have hundreds of thoughts, but, despite having lots of different labels and levels of intensity, our emotions are generally within 4 broad categories – our primary emotions:

Primary Emotions


Recognising when we feel these emotions is how we can focus on developing our responses to become more emotionally intelligent and provides a framework to control the way we respond. Recognising the emotional states of others is a vital skill for leaders enabling appropriate action to be taken.


It is perfectly normal to experience emotions at work. For example:  feeling happy with a job well done; worrying about an uncertainty; irritation with others; being angry with rude customers. It is fairly obvious that positive emotions make us more productive and effective. However, negative emotions are a reality and the objective should be to recognise a negative emotion and move through and away from a negative emotion quickly.


Emotions are an outward expression of what we think and believe. It is tempting to believe that the external cause creates the emotion but it is our thoughts, how we respond, that causes the emotional reaction.  In a nutshell, emotions are an expression of how we think. All emotion really is, is energy in motion (e-motion).

Emotions experienced by a normal healthy person result from thoughts that they have before they experience the emotion. Some thoughts may be conscious and some unconscious. Application of EI enables you to make a choice about your thoughts and about how you react to an experienced emotion. Choice Theory asserts that the fact you feel a particular way is because you have chosen to feel that way.

There is something really significant in recognising that how we make people feel at work will affect their behaviours, which will affect, positively or adversely, what we are trying to achieve.

Changing Responses to Events


Controlling ‘self-talk’ – the constant dialogue we all have in our minds with ourselves – is the key to improving our positivity and emotional responses to situations at work. Positive thoughts drive positive self-talk, which helps elevate performance; negative thoughts drive negative self-talk, which restricts performance. Positive and negative self-talk can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remember, we a choice over our self- talk – we chose what to say! It requires concerted effort to:


·    Focus on things you can control (including emotions and behaviours);

·    Recognise that you can only control the present – do not dwell on the past;

·    See problems as challenges;

·    View successes as repeatable and failures as resolvable; and

·    Be optimistic, not pessimistic.




A recognised technique for changing your stance on a particular issue is to reframe your thinking in a more positive way. That is, to give yourself permission to take a different  perspective  on  your  thoughts  about  a particular  situation  or  to  look  at a situation  from  a  different  angle.    A  great  example,  albeit  fictitious,  was  a  recent television advert for The Guardian newspaper. The advert showed a scene where a rough looking youth grabbed an old woman to the floor and her handbag fell off to the side of her: the obvious thought to have was that she had just been mugged! However, the camera diverted to a different angle that made it clear that the old lady has been standing where a builder’s skip, chained to a winch, was about to fall from a tall building and most likely would have killed her. From one angle she had just been mugged, while, from another, her life had just been saved.