Leadership Skills & Emotional Intelligence

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Leadership Skills
Emotional Intelligence

Executive Summary:
Emotional intelligence has become a popular topic in the business press in recent
years. Although we have not used the term “emotional intelligence”, the Center
for Creative Leadership has helped many leaders understand and develop
emotional intelligence competencies for over thirty years. One way that we have
successfully helped managers move beyond intellectual know-how and expand
their emotional intelligence is through Benchmarks, a multi-rater feedback tool.
This study compares scores on Benchmarks to self-reported emotional
intelligence as measured by the BarOn EQ-i. We learned that key leadership
skills and perspectives are related to aspects of emotional intelligence and the
absence of emotional intelligence was related to career derailment.

Leadership Skills & Emotional Intelligence

How is emotional intelligence related
and weaknesses. Ratings on self-awareness were
to the specific behaviors we associate
related to impulse control and stress tolerance. If
with leadership effectiveness?
you find that you explode into anger easily, it is
likely that others don’t see you as very self-aware.

In addition, it appears that others may draw
Findings: Higher levels of emotional
conclusions about your self-awareness from how
intelligence are associated with better
you handle difficult and challenging situations. If
performance in the following areas:
you get anxious, others may interpret this as a
Participative Management
lack of self-awareness.
Putting People at Ease

Balance Between Personal Life and Work
Balance Between Personal Life and Work
measures the degree to which work and personal
Straightforwardness and Composure
life activities are prioritized so that neither is
Building and Mending Relationships
neglected. High ratings from bosses on these
Doing Whatever it Takes
behaviors were associated with the emotional
intelligence measures of social responsibility,
Confronting Problem Employees
impulse control, and empathy. Giving your
Change Management
bosses the impression that you are balanced is

connected with your feelings of being able to
Participative Management reflects the
contribute to a group, controlling your impulses,
importance of getting buy-in at the beginning of
and understanding the emotions of others. High
an initiative. It is an extremely important
ratings from direct reports are also associated
relationship-building skill in today’s management
with impulse control.
climate in which organizations value

interdependency within and between groups. Of
Straightforwardness and Composure, which
all the skills and perspectives measures on
refers to the skill of remaining calm in a crisis and
Benchmarks, participative management had the
recovering from mistakes, is related to several
largest number of meaningful correlations with
emotional intelligence measures. Not
measures of emotional intelligence. In other
surprisingly, ratings from bosses, peers, and direct
words, managers who are seen as good at
reports on this scale are related to impulse
listening to others and gaining their input before
control. Direct report ratings are also associated
implementing change are likely to be assessed as
with stress tolerance, optimism, and social
good at cooperating with others, able to find
responsibility. Boss ratings are related to
pleasure in life, able to foster relationships,
happiness. Thus it appears that being rated highly
control impulses, and understand their own
on straightforwardness and composure has to do
emotions and the emotions of others.
with controlling impulses during difficult times,

being responsible toward others, and having a
Putting People at Ease gets at the heart of
satisfied disposition.
making others relaxed and comfortable in your

presence. From the perspective of direct reports,
Building and Mending Relationships is the
putting people at ease was related to impulse
ability to develop and maintain working
control, which is defined as the ability to resist or
relationships with various internal and external
delay the impulse to act. This finding suggests
parties. Ratings from bosses on this scale were
that being able to behaviorally put people at ease
related to only one measure of emotional
has to do with controlling your own impulses
intelligence: impulse control. This is not
with regard to anger or other emotions. Boss
surprising because poor impulse control manifests
ratings of putting people at ease are related to
itself as an inability to control hostility and
happiness, suggesting that your disposition is
explosive behavior. Obviously, this tendency will
related to how comfortable others are in your
not translate into strong relationships with bosses.
Similarly, scores on stress tolerance are related to

direct report ratings. Difficulties handling stress
Self-Awareness describes those managers who
may reveal themselves to direct reports as
have an accurate understanding of their strengths
©2003 Center for Creative Leadership

problematic relationships or the stress may result
of change management are related to
from troubled relationships with direct reports.
interpersonal relationship abilities. Apparently,

the ability to establish satisfying relationships has
Boss ratings on Doing Whatever It Takes,
a connection to how well peers judge your ability
which has to do with persevering in the face of
to institute change.
obstacles as well as taking charge and standing

alone when necessary were related to two of the
Conclusions: Leadership abilities vary according
emotional intelligence scales: independence and
to rater perspective and level of emotional
assertiveness. People who are high on
intelligence. In general, co-workers seem to
independence tend to be self-reliant and
appreciate managers’ abilities to control their
autonomous. Although they may ask for input
impulses and anger, to withstand adverse events
from others, they are not dependent on it.
and stressful situations, to be happy with life, and
Assertiveness has to do with expressing feelings,
to be a cooperative member of the group. These
thoughts, and beliefs in a nondestructive manner.
leaders are more likely to be seen as participative,
People high on this scale are not shy about letting
self-aware, composed, and balanced.
others know what they want. Direct report ratings

are associated with independence and optimism.
Optimism has to do with looking at the brighter
The Method and Analysis
side of life. This constellation of relationships
suggests that doing whatever it takes requires
This summary compiled by Jean Leslie, Manger
emotional intelligence in the sense of being able
of Instrument Research at CCL, is based on data
to go after what you want, being able to persevere
from 302 managers attending CCL’s Leadership
in getting what you want, and seeing that a bright
Development Program® between July and
future is possible.
September 2000. The managers volunteered to

take part in this research by completing both the
Direct report ratings of Decisiveness are related
BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory (BarOn EQ-
to assessments of independence. Decisiveness
i), which assesses components of emotional
has to do with a preference for quick and
intelligence, and Benchmarks. On average, LDP
approximate actions over slow and approximate
participants were 42.7 years old, 73% were male,
ones. Independence has to do with the ability to
81% were white, and 90% had a minimum of a
be self-directed and self-controlled in one’s
bachelor’s degree. The results of both surveys
thinking. It does not seem at all surprising that
were linked and analyzed. Results reported here
people who rate themselves as independent
are based on at least moderately associated
thinkers would be viewed by their direct reports
(r.20) zero order correlations of participants
as decisive.

Another interesting relationship has to do with
Is the need to develop emotional
peer ratings of Confronting Problem
, the degree to which a manager acts
intelligence abilities related to
decisively and fairly when dealing with problem
derailment behaviors?
employees, and the emotional intelligence

measure of assertiveness. Assertive people are
Findings: In his 1998 book, Working With
able to express their beliefs and feelings in a
Emotional Intelligence, Donald Goleman suggests
nondestructive manner. These results suggest that
that some of the reasons why people derail stem
being able to do this is helpful when it comes to
from a lack of emotional intelligence. Our
dealing with problematic performance situations.
research indicates the absence of emotional

intelligence is related to career derailment. Low
Change Management is the final Benchmarks
emotional intelligence scores are related to:
scale to be connected with emotional intelligence.
Problems with Interpersonal Relationships
This skill has to do with the effectiveness of the
Difficulty Changing or Adapting
strategies used to facilitate change initiatives.

Ratings from direct reports are associated with
Ratings on Problems with Interpersonal
measures of social responsibility. In other words,
Relationships from all co-workers—bosses, peers,
the ability to be a cooperative member of one’s
and direct reports—were associated with low
social group is associated with perceptions of
scores on impulse control. Problems with
effectiveness in introducing change. Peer ratings
©2003 Center for Creative Leadership

Interpersonal Relationships ratings from direct
The ability to demonstrate yourself as a
reports and peers were related to stress tolerance.
cooperative, contributing, and
Ratings from direct reports were related to social
constructive member of the group, is

critical for long-term career success.
Conclusions: These results suggest that
Consider managing an inexperienced
managers who don’t feel a responsibility to
work team or employees who are
others, can’t handle stress, are unaware of their
resistant. Think about what you can do
own emotions, lack the ability to understand
to contribute positively to group and
others, or erupt into anger easily are viewed as
likely to derail due to problems dealing with other
organizational goals through new job
people. High scores from direct reports on
assignments, existing jobs, role models or
Difficulty Changing or Adapting were related to
EQ-i scores on stress tolerance, and impulse

control. Managers who resist change and
If maintaining self-control is a developmental
growth, as high scores on this derailment factor
area for you, consider leading a task force or
imply, may be plainly visible to direct reports.
project team made up of diverse members, taking

calls on a customer hot line, negotiating a high
Suggestions for Development
profile case, or representing your organization to
What can you do if you want to improve your
the media or influential outsiders. Seek a job
skills in the leadership arena and perceptions of
assignment such as a project or task force headed
your emotional intelligence too?
by someone known for his or her high since of

integrity and crisis management strength.
Self-Awareness is key to leadership development

and is a skill to handling stress. The more
accurately we can identify and monitor our
Bar-On, R. (1999). BarOn Emotional Quotient
emotional upsets, the faster we can recover. Self-
Inventory: A measure of emotional intelligence
awareness can be developed through the practice
(Technical manual). Toronto, Canada: Multi-
of seeking on-going feedback. Ask supervisors
Health Systems.
and co-workers who know you well for honest

feedback on how your behavior is impacting
Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional
them. Use opportunities to self-reflect upon
intelligence. New York, NY:
adversity – business failures, demotions, missed
Bantam Books.
promotions, unchallenging jobs, and personal

trauma. Consider what you learned as a result of
Ruderman, M.N., Hannum, K., Leslie, J.B., &
these hardships. Participate in a leadership
Steed, J.L. (2001). Leadership skills and
development program that features self-awareness
emotional intelligence (Unpublished manuscript).
and reflection and ask for feedback on a multi-
Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.
rater assessment.
The Measures
Benchmarks® is 360 degree assessment-for development tool that is based on 15 years of CCL
research: 1) a body of research looking at the characteristics successful executives develop over
time and 2) a series of studies investigating why some high–potential executives derail and fall off
the success track. Feedback is provided on 16 leadership skills and perspectives and 5 derailment
scales. The BarOn EQ-i has fifteen scales that can be divided into five larger groupings. The areas
assessed are emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, self-regard, self-actualization, independence,
empathy, interpersonal relationship, social responsibility, problem solving, reality testing,
flexibility, stress tolerance, impulse control, happiness, and optimism. The BarOn EQ-i was
selected because it had the greatest body of scientific data suggesting it was an accurate and
reliable means of assessing emotional intelligence.

For more about Benchmarks, contact Client Services at 336-545-2810
©2003 Center for Creative Leadership

©2001 Center for Creative Leadership

Research Synopsis Number 1