Effective leaders need to cultivate emotional competency (also called
emotional intelligence). They must be comfortable with their own
emotions, and those of their employees. They need to be able and
willing to respond properly to what their emotions tell them. They
should be capable of communicating emotions and inspiring followers.
Human beings tend to glorify thinking because it is something that only
humans can do. However, the vast majority of other animal species got
by just fine for eons without the capacity for thought by using their
emotions as their guide. Emotions are the original evolutionary warning
and signaling system, present in both animals and humans. Fear indicate
in no uncertain terms that danger is near and strongly motivates
retreat. Happiness accompanies the presence of life-enhancing
experiences (nourishment, shelter, sex, relationships) and strongly
motivates approach. Anger can lead to social or even physical
aggression that can be valuable for survival and reproductive success.
Emotions motivate behavior in ways that help insure survival.
Although extreme emotion can temporarily interfere with thinking, for
the most part emotions help people organize their thoughts and
reactions. Emotions help us to prioritize by directing attention to
options that have higher survival value. Being happy makes it easier to
reason and to be creative. Changes in mood often signal a need to
review what is happening around us. Emotions help us remember and can
help us in making judgments. In short, the notion that thinking is good
and feelings are bad is pure nonsense. While effective leaders do need
to be capable thinkers and strategists, and to be able to keep their
wits about them when under stress, they also need to be attentive and
sensitive to their emotional states. It takes both clear thinking and
emotional awareness to make the best informed decisions.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to recognize and properly
identify emotional states in themselves and others. Those who cannot
recognize emotional states in others are likely to significantly
misjudge people's motivations. The ability to manage emotion in one's
self by moderating negative emotions and enhancing positive ones is
essential to effective leadership. Leaders who cannot control the
experience and expression of anger are condemned to be significantly
less effective. Emotionally intelligent leaders can regulate their
Emotionally intelligent leaders are also capable of empathy.
They appreciate what other people are feeling and identify with those
feelings. They use that understanding to develop strategies for
influencing others in the service of the organization and are
themselves able to make better judgments based on their insights.
Leaders who lack empathy are less effective.
Emotionally competent leaders lead with the heart as well as
the head through effective emotionally-charged communication that
motivates employees. Followers (among the employees) end up matching
their emotions to those emoted by their leader, much like a struck
tuning fork placed near another will set the other vibrating. Leaders
who are unable or unwilling to broadcast emotion will lack followers.