Great Leadership Works through Emotions

November 21, 2015 | Posted in Leadership | By

A very important element of my personal leadership philosophy is based upon the concepts of emotional intelligence. My understanding for emotional intelligence derives from the work of Daniel Goleman’s through his book Emotional Intelligence (1995) and also his joint work with Boyatzis & McKee on Primal Leadership (2004).

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the emotions of others and yourself, and to use the understandings of these emotions to guide thinking and behavior (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2004; Goleman, 1995).

Great Leadership Works through Emotions

Goleman outlines that emotional intelligence is made up of five constructs:

  1. Self-Awareness – ability to known one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, vales and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
  2. Self-regulation – controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
  3. Social Skill – managing relationships to move people in the desire direction.
  4. Empathy – considering other [people’s feelings especially when making decisions.
  5. Motivation – being drive to achieve for the sake of achievement.

Specifically, it is through employing emotional intelligence in my communications, vision casting, and trust building that I lead within and at my university. It can be a challenging task to clearly outline a vision in an inspirational and emotionally expressive way. However, emotional intelligence assists me in doing this in a very practical way.

I accomplish this through individual consideration (Burns, 1978), by personally taking the time to meet with our department’s leadership and staff regularly. These meetings are a leadership behavior that I have come to habitually conduct at my university. It is in these personal meetings, as well as in the regular departmental wide meetings, that I seek to incorporate emotional intelligence in an effective way to inspire others to also serve.

As I meet with staff regularly, my intention is to understand the emotional layout of the department (social skill and empathy), as well as communicate our team’s direction. I seek to understand my own emotions (self-awareness), as well as channel those emotions (self-regulation) to positively encourage each staff member (motivation) to lead transformation effectively. Without employing the concepts of emotional intelligence in these regular meetings, leading at my university would be an almost impossible task to accomplish.

I found have found that once you understand how important positive and encouraging emotions are for leadership, and furthermore how they contribute to employee motivation, your leadership style will change forever.

One of my favorite quotes on emotional intelligence, which encapsulates the transformational and tremendous power of emotional intelligence, comes from Goleman, where he explains:

“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passions and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas … the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions” (Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee, 2004, p.16).


Works Cited:

Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2004). Primal leadership: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why it can mater more than IQ. New York: Bantam.

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Exceptional Leaders Know How to Share their Dreams

June 20, 2014 | Posted in Leadership | By

One of the important ideas that we discuss on this website is the concept of Vision, or what I call communicating dreams into reality.

This past Friday I had a great conversation with Timothy Watts, one of my colleagues and Director for International Admissions at Dallas Baptist University. Tim and I were discussing our new international marketing plan, specifically some of the communication challenges (or) opportunities we could encounter with the launch of this new initiative. During our discussion, we realized that an important component for success in this program would be the group’s cohesiveness to the goals of the marketing plan. We needed to be sure that everyone knew, and clearly understood, including why and how we were moving forward with this program. We realized it was all about our team buying into the Vision!

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell writes, “Nearly anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course… they see the whole trip in their minds before they leave the dock. They have a vision for their destination…”


For leaders, I consider this one of the most important and critical areas that we need to get right. I have found that exceptional leaders have the ability to clearly communicate, in a contagious way, the goals and direction for an organization. In other words, they know how to “steer the ship”. Furthermore, they know how to do it in a way that is exciting, so much in fact that their ship is packed with passengers wanting to come along for the ride. I believe that this can be accomplished through communicating the leaders’s vision, or sharing their dream!

When you are establishing and communicating your vision, I think it is important to consider a few things:

1) Find your Dream – This one may be a bit obvious, but it starts with finding your dream. Ideally, a dream rooted with your timeless purpose that you are compelled to see completed. As a suggestion, start with the end in mind, and then work backwards.Ask yourself, what is important to you or your organization? What will actually bring valuable benefits to those that you have influence or responsibility for? Think about what you would like to see happen, and then work backwards, step by step to see what it will take to get in done.

2) Elicit Advice – Once you have your dream, it will be important to test it by electing the advice from others. Feedback is important. This means sharing the idea with your trusted colleagues and advisers. This will help you to vet your thoughts and establish whether your vision is indeed timeless and adds value for your purposes. Coincidentally, this will also help determine if your vision is indeed “contagious” by testing it on your trusted colleagues. Remember, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” ~ Proverbs 15:22

3) Share it – Here’s the fun part, starting sharing your vision! In fact, don’t stop talking about it. I have found this to be one of the “arts” of exceptional leadership. Specifically, exceptional leaders can enable followers to action by sharing their vision in an emotionally expressive manner — IE: leveraging their emotional intelligence to get people excited about being apart of the vision. Great leaders can draw you in through their use of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skill; connecting you together with the vision.

4) Reflect on it – Take time to step back occasionally to see how your dreams are coming into reality. Repeat #2, and elicit more feedback and thoughts from others. In the end, you’ll want to be sure the plans you have set in place are actually being accomplished and provide value to your purposes. As discussed, a vision is worthless if it does not have a timeless purpose that brings lasting value and benefit to others. You will most likely want a benchmark (or metric) to measure value; such as more sales, higher morale, greater client satisfaction, etc.

Leadership is such a privilege. The opportunity to share your dreams with others through a vision is an important responsibility. Do not loose your head in this. You have the privilege to take others, your organization, and it’s project where you believe God wants to go!

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