emotional intelligence at work

Emotions are the heart of life and leadership. Health, happiness, and high performance are highly dependent on emotions. In their seminal book, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee explain the book title by pointing to emotional impact as being at the very core of leadership. Emotional connections are a timeless and primary task of leaders.

History shows the pivotal role beliefs and emotions play in an array of outcomes. The authors write, “Leaders have always played a primordial emotional role. No doubt humankind’s original leaders — whether tribal chieftains or shamanesses — earned their place in large part because their leadership was emotionally compelling…the leader acts as the group’s emotional guide…in any human group the leader has maximal power to sway everyone’s emotions. If people’s emotions are pushed toward the range of enthusiasm, performance can soar; if people are driven toward rancor and anxiety, they will be thrown off stride. …great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions.”

Zenger Folkman’s research shows just how powerful emotions are in driving behavior. In their research paper, Emotions at Work, ZF studied their 360 database to look at the impact of inspiration on productivity. Employee perceptions of their work group’s productivity were correlated with their ratings of their immediate manager on inspiration. The results clearly show the enormous emotional impact of the leader:

level of inspiration

This research is detailed in Zenger Folkman’s book, The Inspiring Leader: Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate. The book’s main chapters outline the six core leadership behaviors that Zenger Folkman find have the biggest impact:

  1. Setting stretch goals
  2. Creating vision and direction
  3. Communicating powerfully
  4. Developing people
  5. Being collaborative and a good team player
  6. Fostering innovation

Highly effective leaders play to their strengths in making emotional connections with their teams in six different styles:

  1. Enthusiast
  2. Visionary
  3. Involver
  4. Expert
  5. Principled
  6. Driver

As a few key quotes from The Inspiring Leader show, “adequate leaders get everyone to do their jobs, but inspirational leaders are able to get people to rise far above that mark and achieve more.”

Emotions are highly contagious. Are yours worth catching?