Listen to your heart

By Dr Peter Chew, Specialist in behaviour

This is the fifth article in a six-part series about understanding EQ and making it work for you

Managing with emotional intelligence is the new measure of good leadership

Workers of the world, the revolution is coming! This time, though, don't expect blood on the streets, just that a host of outdated notions about accepted business practice will be swept away and replaced by a more intelligent method of corporate management. Inevitably, that means adapting to new styles of leadership and will require mastering a range of skills that enable individuals to exploit their EQ as much as their IQ.

Predictions about this coming transformation within the workplace originally began after a series of studies on emotional intelligence. They indicated that people who are intellectually the brightest are often not the most successful in their business or personal lives, and questioned why this should be so.

Subsequent research has gone on to confirm that, if two executives or professionals are equally proficient in technical skills and have identical qualifications, the one with the higher EQ will get ahead faster. He will detect non-verbal signals more deftly, anticipate potential areas of disagreement and be ready with ideas to resolve them. Furthermore, he will be able to pick up on the interpersonal connections that spell opportunity and the subliminal interactions, unnoticed and not acted upon by others, which are an open door to advancement.

This type of sensitivity will also translate into markedly better performance in team situations and the ability to put across a contrasting point of view in the most effective way.

New perspective
It is worth considering for a moment the big management initiatives of the past decade. In large part, they have centred on re-engineering, cost cutting and investment in better systems. There has been a widespread belief that corporations can reach the pinnacle of success by taking a purely "intellectual" approach. They have relied on the evidence of financial printouts, statistical analysis and organisation charts, while pushing human relationships to one side.

All that intellect may have been necessary to make corporations more competitive and drive up profits, but it has come at a price. In any off the record discussion with a group of employees, you are likely to hear variations on the same theme. Some will talk about a loss of trust, long-term uncertainty and greater distance between managers and subordinates. Others will complain of stifled creativity, growing cynicism and empty management promises which reward loyalty and commitment with "downsizing".

However, there is a better way. The burgeoning study of emotional intelligence is teaching us something new every day. With the help of case studies and academic research, we have the chance to make better use of the energy generated by our emotions and the wisdom that lies within our intuition. Something powerful really does reside in our ability to understand ourselves and connect at a fundamental level with those around us.

In the business context, it has been seen that knowledge of the principles of emotional intelligence can be a critical factor affecting success in areas such as:

  • Leadership
  • Decision making
  • Strategic thinking
  • Open and honest communication
  • Teamwork and relationship building
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Gaining customer loyalty

    That is because emotional intelligence comes not from the musings of the intellect, but from the workings of the human heart. It is not concerned with deceit or how to control others. It is not about the psychology of exploitation or manipulation.

    Instead, we should see emotional intelligence as what activates our innermost values and aspirations, transforming them from things we think about into the force that can shape our lives. This can provide the motivation for us to realise our true potential.

    Head or heart
    Too often, however, people in positions of authority fail to take account of feedback that comes from the heart and not from the head. They are inclined to disregard their own inner feelings and subjugate instincts which have the potential to guide them to unexpected possibilities and provide a compass for life.

    Most leaders are similarly suspicious of any actions of their subordinates which appear to be the result of emotion rather than a more predictable process of reflection. What they overlook, though, is that emotions ignite creative genius and help people to accomplish feats which go beyond the norm. By harnessing this power rather than suppressing it, they can tap into a new source of energy and wisdom for the long-term benefit of their organisations.

    It takes emotional intelligence to acknowledge and value "the spirit that moves us" and respond to it appropriately. The leaders who learn to do it best will have a significant advantage when it comes to running departments or companies in which staff really do feel their contribution is valued and their potential is being fulfilled. Change is on the way and the workplace will be beter for it.

    In the next article, we will examine ways you can enhance your own EQ and learn to become more "heart smart".

    Founder of Best International Group of Companies, Dr Peter Chew is a psychotherapist, motivational specialist, author, lecturer, international keynote speaker, and consultant with over 20 years of vast experience. For information, please contact Peter Chew at

  • Taken from Career Times 15 October 2004
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