You've been there. You're in a meeting about an important issue, but the person leading the meeting isn't leading at all. Instead, they are only concerned with themselves and seem unaware of the needs and feelings of others. It even seems like they don't understand the mission and goals of the organization. They spend time talking about and defending themselves. They are unable to clarify critical issues for the organization or help others thrive. 

Perhaps, you've even been the person poorly leading a room full of frustrated employees, co-workers, family members, or friends. 

Do you tend to turn inward and worry about yourself during critical moments of leadership? 

“What about me?” may be the worst thing to think or say in a critical moment of leadership. 

Psychologist Daniel Goleman broke new ground in his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence. He not only coined the new term, but he also established the importance of emotional intelligence to business leadership. After conducting research at over 200 companies, Goleman penned one of Harvard Business Review's most enduring articles. In his article, "What Makes A Great Leader," he states unequivocally:

“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he [she] still won’t make a great leader.”

He goes on to say that emotional intelligence (EQ) becomes even more important the higher up the executive ranks within a company. “The higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more emotional intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for his or her effectiveness.”

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Goleman identifies five components of emotional intelligence.

  1. Self Awareness: the ability to recognize and have a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest—with themselves and with others.
  2. Self Regulation: the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods. The propensity to suspend judgement — to think before acting. People engaged in such a conversation feel bad moods and emotional impulses just as everyone else does, but they find ways to control them and even to channel them in useful ways.
  3. Motivation: a passion for work that goes beyond money or status. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. People that have a passion for the work itself—such people seek out creative challenges, love to learn, and take great pride in a job well done.
  4. Empathy: the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. People with empathy thoughtfully consider employees’ feelings—along with other factors—in the process of making intelligent decisions.
  5. Social Skills: the proficiency in managing relationships and building networks. Socially skilled people tend to have a wide circle of acquaintances, and they have a knack for finding common ground with people of all kinds—a knack for building rapport.

How To Become More Emotionally Intelligent 

It is possible for you to grow in emotional intelligence (EQ). According to Goleman, to grow in this area takes three things; incentive to want to change, extended practice, and feedback from others. So, the most important question becomes “why lead?”

A leader must know their “why” in order to lead others. If the reason is personal gain, the leader may not be able to improve much. But, if it’s for something bigger — something that’s bigger than the individual — they will be able to find incentive and find the right proving ground in order to get the feedback they need to improve. 

There Is An Even Better Way 

Emotional intelligence is good, however; spiritual maturity is even better. When you put off your old self and put on your new self in Christ, you stop worrying about your weaknesses and your needs as you trust in God. In Christ, you find out that the proper motivation is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31) by being one with Christ in all that you do. Spiritual maturity leads to true humility and allows you to consider the needs of others above your own (Philippians 2:3-4). Spiritually maturity leads to long-lasting relationships on earth and for eternity.

The Apostle Paul describes it this way: 

“When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:21-24)

Yes, you are made by God to be righteous, holy, and just. Seeking God above all else allows regular people to develop extraordinary leadership qualities. This has been true since the beginning of time. Let’s look at what may seem like an obscure text, but it shows how one emotional intelligent and spiritually mature woman was able to direct one of the most powerful commanders in history to do the right thing for their nation and for the glory of God. In the times of King David, the commander of the Israelite army, Joab, was attempting to squash a rebellion led by a man named Sheba. At that time, he was guided by an anonymous woman who (at great risk to herself) gave incredible God-centered advice which led to peace for many.

All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?” “I am,” he answered. She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.” “I'm listening,” he said. She continued, “Long ago they used to say, 'Get your answer at Abel,' and that settled it. We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord's inheritance?” “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I'll withdraw from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.” Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem. - 2 Samuel 20:15-22

In this story we see the wise woman demonstrate the following:

  • Knowing you are God’s child is the best form of self-awareness. The wise woman knew her strength and had a God-given vision for peace.
  • Humility that recognizes God’s power is the best self-regulation. She was able to control her emotions and convince the powerful general to listen to her.
  • God’s will is the best motivation. The woman was able to appeal to the commander on the basis of God's desire for peace and desire to preserve the “Lord’s inheritance.”
  • A heart for God is the best empathy. She was able to appeal to the commander based on common values and motivation to honor God.
  • Passion for God is the best social skill. She was able to motivate and manage the people of the city in order to bring peace to the city and honor to God.

Join us this week as we learn more about leading with emotional intelligence through spiritual maturity.

Emotional intelligence is good, however; spiritual maturity is even better. When you put off your old self and put on your new self in Christ, you stop worrying about your weaknesses and your needs as you trust in God.
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