Leading from the Heart
The time is
long past when the word leader conjured up the image of a steely-jawed
man commanding an army, a company, or a nation. Now we've got steely-jawed
That's a joke,
of course. Living in a faltering service-and-information economy,
we know good leadership, in a man or a woman, involves far more
than just dominance, strategy, and drive. And we recognize true
leadership when we see and feel it in our personal heroes.
notions linger in the working world. Corporate America took its
old command-and-control model from the military back when both institutions
were overwhelmingly male and when men were supposed to run purely
on reason and aggression. Feelings, then regarded as feminine, had
no place in the war called business. So it's a sign of profound
and refreshing progress when a psychologist published by Harvard
Business School Press asserts, "The primal task of leadership
is emotional. People don't leave their feelings at home when they
go out the door. We have feelings all the time, and the best leaders
tune in to those feelings and move them in a positive direction."
The author is
Daniel Goleman, whose earlier books, Emotional Intelligence and
Working with Emotional Intelligence, became best-sellers because
they named a concept we'd unknowingly thirsted for. Readers had
a visceral aha reaction to the notion that intelligence is more
than the cortical nimbleness quantified by IQ tests, that the smarts
that bring true success and satisfaction involve the heart as much
as the head: people sense, self knowledge emotional savvy, integrity
- in an old fashioned word, wisdom. A former New York Times reporter
on brain and behavioral science, Goleman's new book, Primal Leadership
- coauthored with Richard Boyatzis, a professor of organizational
behavior at Case Western, and Annie McKee, PhD, a management consultant
in Philadelphia - says that specific emotional skills, and real
caring, are at the heart of effective leadership.
the best leaders make people feel good even (and most crucially)
in bad times by helping them deal with negative emotions and nurturing
their positive ones. Both brain-science and organizational research
show that when we feel good we accomplish much more, individually
and in groups. Goleman and his coauthors provide hard data that
a company's bottom line follows its emotional climate, which in
turn flows from its leaders. Abusive, insensitive bosses who make
people feel bad get, at best, short-term results.
who motivate by rousing hatred or fear burn people out because these
emotions are biologically designed for short bursts of action,"
Goleman says. "If you get that kind of 'motivation' day after
day, it exhausts you. You feel terrible. And if it's a good job
market, you will leave very quickly. Bad bosses are bad for you-
and bad for business. Our data show they bring about lower productivity
and organizational performance. Strong leaders motivate through
inspiration, guidance, and articulating a shared vision so that
people feel enthusiastic and give their best."
that deans of admissions at two of the country's top business schools
have told him they realize they've put too much emphasis on test
scores and will now give more attention to applicants' emotional
intelligence. But principles of leadership, Goleman suggests, apply
not only to business and politics, but to any setting you might
find yourself in. Tuning others' emotions to a shared, upbeat wavelength
- Goleman calls it resonance - is something we already do for our
families, friends, and coworkers whenever we cope with a crisis,
calm someone down or organize a project. Goleman says we can learn
to do it more consciously, consistently and skillfully. In other
words, wise leaders are made, not born.
task of leadership is helping someone else handle their feelings
better so they can do what they have to do," he says. "A
mother making an upset kid feel better is a good illustration. In
any work group there's an official leader, but very often there's
someone else who others turn to in a crisis- the one who knows how
people feel and can help them get through a rocky moment. That's
the emotional leader. It's a key role in a group, and I think it's
one women often play at work.
are contagious," Goleman adds. "People who are bummed
out and fed up spread their bad moods wherever they go. Positive
people nourish others. Someone who keeps her soul in tact, despite
the difficulties of life and work and the scary economy, can make
others feel uplifted." A 1999 study conducted by Sigal Barsad,
PhD, at The Yale School of Management found that being happy and
relaxed is at least as infectious as -if not more than - negative
Anyone can become
a resident leader, Goleman says, by developing the four components
of emotional intelligence. The first is self-knowledge-"knowing
your own feelings, tuning in to that subtle murmur of moods that
goes on all day alongside your stream of thought. Values are our
moral rudder," he says. "Whenever you're about to make
a decision, take action, or respond to another person, there's an
implicit question: Is what I'm about to do or say in keeping with
my values, my ethics, my purpose in life? That question is answered
for us by our emotions. We don't reason about values. Instead we
get a sense: This feels right, or that doesn't feel right. The thinking
brain has a lot of information, but it's the feeling brain that
has wisdom." Being attuned to your values is integrity. "The
best leaders have conviction because they believe in what they're
doing," he says.
The second component
of emotional intelligence is self-management - being able to handle
your distressing moments and keeping yourself motivated and upbeat.
Managing negative emotions doesn't mean suppressing or ignoring
them - that would make you incapable of empathy, which is the third
part of emotional intelligence and a leader's lifeline to those
she comforts and inspires. But neither can you allow bad feelings
to disable you and poison others. "When you're flooded with
negative emotions, they swamp the thinking brain - particularly
the decision-making centers - as well as the emotional radar you
need to read other's tones of voice and facial expressions,"
Goleman says. "You see people through your own emotions."
Thus, you might dump all over the nearest family member, coworker,
or employee. (Goleman calls bosses who do this dissonant leaders.)
The fourth part is relationship management, which Goleman defines
as "the art of effectively dealing with the other person's
emotions, so that both of you feel better at the end of the interaction."
In times of
crisis - when great leadership can make the difference between chaos
and healing - it is empathy, Goleman says, that grants the power
to inspire. "Some of the best leaders asked people to come
in the day after September 11 - but not to work, just to talk. And
to listen. Listening is crucial in troubled times. And then a good
leader articulates the unstated feelings in the group, acknowledging
openly what everyone feared was 'just me.' 'Yes, these are tough
times,' the leader might, 'and we have to make hard decisions. I
know you're worried. I'm worried, too. Let's have an honest conversation.'
That is riveting to people, because it helps them share their hearts."
Only then can the leader move to "Let's talk about what we
can actually do, " articulating a vision that reflects the
group's values and purpose.
to lead in hard times can be found in the realm of the spirit, Goleman
says. "You need to find something that sustains your soul,
your positive feelings about life. It might be prayer, it might
be meditation, it might be a project you're doing for homeless people
- helping someone else is a wonderful way to help yourself. Whatever
it is, if it makes you feel good, take time to do it. We always
say, "Oh, that can wait, 'but that's the one thing that actually
can't wait. That's the one that you have to build in to your daily
routine. Nourish yourself. If you have something you can always
turn to inside no matter what's going on outside, then you have
a powerful emotional generator for the good stuff.
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