Success and emotional intelligence


By Manish Shah

Technical skills and IQ have long been considered as the cornerstones for business success. However, Daniel Goleman in his pioneering research has established that emotional intelligence is an equally critical ingredient for success at all levels of an organization.

The five components of emotional intelligence are self-awareness (a clear understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses); self-regulation (control of one’s emotions and ability to channel them to create a positive impact); motivation (achievement not just for external gain but for internal fulfillment); empathy (understanding of other peoples’ perspectives and feelings in making decisions); and social skills (skillful management of relationships with other people).

The success of one of the greatest US Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, can be attributed to a very high emotional intelligence. There are several anecdotes from his life that illustrate this point.

Lincoln suffered periodically from bouts of severe depression. He was acutely aware of this problem and according to him the remedy was to avoid being idle and to stay engaged in business and conversation with his friends.

Lincoln was very distressed when he received a note from General Meade that General Lee, who was their arch enemy, had escaped with his army. Lincoln wrote an irate letter to General Meade expressing his great dissatisfaction at Meade’s incompetence. However, instead of sending the letter to Meade, he collected himself and permanently shelved the letter away marking on it, “To Gen. Meade, never sent, or signed.” He had a way to keep his emotions in check and if they did get better of him, he always apologized to the person, who was at the receiving end.

Lincoln’s ambition was not for office or power, but to leave “the world a little better for my having lived in it.” From a very early age he was driven by making worthwhile contributions to the society so that he could be remembered long after he was gone.

Lincoln was a staunch opponent of slavery. Despite his position, he tried to put himself in a Southerner’s shoes to understand the South’s position on slavery. He never portrayed the Southerners as morally deficient, but he said: “They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not exist amongst them, they would not introduce it.”

Social skills
Finally, Lincoln was masterful in the way he managed relationships. It required tremendous courage on his part to nominate three people, who ran against him in the Presidential primaries- Seward, Chase and Bates, to his cabinet. All these men were better educated and qualified than Lincoln, who had only one year of formal education and no administrative experience. Over the years, Seward became Lincoln’s closest friend and Bates called Lincoln an unmatched leader, who was “very near being a perfect man.”

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be developed through introspection. In order to develop emotional intelligence, we should be mindful of behaviors that need to be changed and seek every opportunity to practice emotionally intelligent behaviors so that they become an integral part of who we are.

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