Tuesday, June 10, 2014

PYP Skills, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Several events have combined recently to prompt me to write this post.   First of all I'm facilitating an online course for the IB, which means I always reflect on the essential elements of the PYP as I work with the participants to make sense of the programme.  Secondly, I was recently sent a great article from the Harvard Business Review on emotional intelligence and leadership, and thirdly leadership is uppermost in my mind as I move into a new role next year.

Let's start with the skills first.  The PYP suggests that 5 transdisciplinary skills are important for teaching and learning and for life outside of school.  These skills are thinking skills, social skills, communication skills, self-management skills and research skills.  Several of these are important components of emotional intelligence.

Daniel Goleman wrote his book Emotional Intelligence almost 20 years ago.  He found that the qualities traditionally associated with leadership such as intelligence, vision and so on, are not enough to ensure success.  Goleman noticed that effective leaders had a high degree of emotional intelligence, which was also made up of 5 components (some of which you will notice overlap with the PYP skills): self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.  The first 3 of these match well with the PYP self-management skills.  The last 2 concern a person's ability to manage relationships with others, which match well with the PYP social skills.

In the Harvard Business Review article Goleman asks what makes a leader?  He writes that without emotional intelligence a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won't make a great leader.  Leaders show a high correlation between emotional intelligence and effective performance.  Goleman is not dismissing cognitive skills, but he felt that when compared with technical skills and IQ, emotional intelligence was twice as important as the others for performing well in jobs at all levels - and at the highest levels of leadership technical skills are of negligible importance.  In other words, the higher the rank of a person, the more emotional intelligence capabilities played a part in his or her effectiveness.

One thing I wanted to know was whether emotional intelligence can be learned.  Apparently there is a strong genetic component to emotional intelligence and nurture as well as nature plays an important role.  However the good news is that emotional intelligence and be learned and in general it increased with age and maturity.

Let's examine the 5 components of emotional intelligence in more detail:
  • Self-awareness:  an understanding of your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drives.  Goleman writes that people who are self-aware are honest with themselves and others.  They recognize their feelings and how these affect them and the people around them - and so how they affect their job performance.  Self-aware people are also strong on doing things in keeping with their values and goals (for example turning down a job that is financial lucrative but which compromises a person's principles or long-term goals).  Self-aware people make good leaders because they are comfortable talking about their limitations and strengths, they demonstrate self-confidence and know what they can do and when to ask for help.  Self-aware people, who can assess themselves honestly, are also more able to do the same for organizations that they run.
  • Self-regulation:  being in control of your feelings and impulses.  People who can self-regulate can create an atmosphere of trust and fairness, where politics and infighting are reduced and productivity is high. 
  • Motivation:  a drive to achieve beyond expectation.  Goleman noticed that leaders are motived by a deep desire to achieve for the sake of achievement as they display a passion for their work.  They seek out creative challenges, love to learn and take pride in a job well done.  He also noticed that they display enormous energy to make things better as they are dissatisfied with the status quo and are eager to explore new approaches to their work.  Motivation is great for businesses because when people love their jobs they are committed to the organization they work for and will often stay with that company even when offered more money to move elsewhere.
  • Empathy:  making intelligent decisions by considering the feelings of others.  Goleman writes that empathy is an important component of today's leadership because people are increasingly working in teams, because of the rapid pace of globalization and because of the growing need to retain talent.  He notes that leaders have always needed empathy to develop and keep good people.  Interestingly he also writes that coaching and mentoring play a huge role in better performance, improved job satisfaction and with decreased turnover.
  • Social skills:  the ability to manage others.  Socially skilled people are effective at managing relationships as they can manage their own emotions and empathize with the feelings of others.  They tend to have a wide circle of acquaintances as well as a network in place to help them take action and are good at managing teams.
Earlier today I was given a copy of Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence book.  I've read it before but clearly it is time to dip back into this book again.  I'll be blogging more about this as I read.

Photo Credit: josef.stuefer via Compfight cc

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