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The role emotional intelligence plays in our working lives

Two articles have shaken me since starting ‘Creativity, innovation and change’ B822′ an elective in the OU’s MBA and for me one choice out of some 60 I believe as I head towards an MA in Open and Distance Education (and perhaps the MBA, or another MA in history, or fine art, or the history of art). I learn like others jam on their guitar or watch football; my mind is my playing field.

The first article was the first article, ‘How to kill creativity’ Tracey Amabile (1987), notes and blogged already shared. It summed up how organisations, or rather people running organisations, should get it right.

The second article is ‘What makes a leader?’ a disingenuous title as from my perspective it spells out not only why some people fail to manage in a business context, but could be rendering themselves unemployable. On a personal level reading this happens to time with an internal ‘performance assessment’; as I am new to working for any organisation with much over 40 people in it, often far smaller and for most of my career self-employed, freelance or running my own 2/3 person business, these assessments put the frighteners on me. Clearly, however, they are a valued and common practice. No detail here, but an inkling from my personal conclusion, indeed what enabled me to address the issues raised, was the Goleman paper on ’emotional intelligence’, as it is his premise that this is what leaders, even good managers or competent, employable staff (in some extremes and incidents) lack.

The notes must have been important as they went onto paper rather than directly into electronic form.

Serendipity puts Goleman’s book on the subject into my hands. ‘Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ’. Or, more importantly, why it can matter far more than qualifications, from which we need to take, that just because you have an MBA does not qualify you to manage people in a team or lead a company? Is this how the one-man-band consultant is created? They are bereft of emotional intelligence? My late father was bereft of emotion, yet he built a family business into an international PLC running over 60 businesses around the globe turning over £156m+ and employing ‘x’ people. An employee (articled clerk, associate then partner of a tiny firm of solicitors: he was Senior Partner age 27 and then the CEO of this business he then grew. He told me he was unemployable or should that be ‘incapable of being an employee?’ I wonder if Goleman would differentiate between someone who is emotionally cold and someone who can control an emotional response? My late father lacked emotional control, yet was so ‘contained’ that in business matters at least he could be clinical in his decision making. As he is long gone and the PLC defunct I feel I am on safe ground to be analytical, indeed his story and the rise and fall of FIH could be a salutary tale.

Notes on ‘what makes a leader?’ to follow, in the mean time I have the book to read. From the book cover blurb I read ’emotional intelligence includes self-awareness and impulse control, persistence, zeal and motivation, empathy and social deftness’.

More worryingly, and I have to consider how much I care to share, he adds, ’emotional lessons a child learns actually sculpt the brain’s circuitry’. This resonates having taken cognitive behavioural therapy to seek ways to make adjustments to what I am or what I became in childhood. Are leaders made or born?

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