Let the record clearly state that I firmly believe that Emotional Intelligence is “All that” and even more. In fact, I have written much on this topic and I remain committed to bringing EI coaching and consulting to those organizations and individuals that want to maximize their potential across all facets of life.
Leaders with high Emotional Intelligence are valued across the board by their organizations. But does that mean that there are no drawbacks or points to ponder where EI is concerned? No, I believe that there are some things to heed in the midst of embracing the benefits.
Many Times It Seems “Feelings-Based”
Effective leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence also often have to achieve a higher level of self-control over their emotions than typical employees. As important as the “gut feeling” that is discussed in much of the commentary on Daniel Goleman’s work is to the basics of EI study, one cannot ignore the connection between the “gut” and the “brain”. In many situations where most employees may get by with a feelings-first approach, leaders must do what’s right rather than what feels good at the moment or is the popular decision to make.
Many Times It Seems “Impulsive”
Effective leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence who operate from an emotional-first perspective can appear to make (or in fact may actually make) more impulsive decisions. Rather than relying solely on data, facts, logic, reasoning and sound judgment, they commonly make decisions on first impressions. This ties back to the “gut feeling” While impulsive decisions can sometimes work out, these are more often the result of tremendous previous experience gathered in similar situations.
Many Times It Seems “Unpredictable”
Effective leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence can appear to be unpredictable at first glance. Nothing destroys the confidence of our team and our organization like not being able to predict and anticipate what our leaders will do. Leaders who cannot demonstrate a systematic pattern of decision-making will not sustain the confidence of their team. Our followers may find us unapproachable and may find ways to avoid us for fear of not knowing what to expect.
What is the Leadership Lesson?
It is this. There is a difference between an emotional response and a gut response. Irrational feelings are our emotions, not the feelings in our guts, although unfortunately often confused by an observer of the situation. Let me explain briefly the difference between emotions and gut feelings because I think this is key to understanding the difference and to the question of how we know when our gut feelings can be relied upon:
Emotional responses are generally felt above the gut and in the area of the heart. In fact they are a combination of feelings from the gut, pulling from the heart, and thinking from the head.
Gut feelings have no thinking component like emotions do. They are an innate response and can be exemplified by the “fight or flight” response. We do not have to think about or cry about the need for self-preservation.
Gut feelings are your truth, so to speak, they are that “inner voice” that guides us based on our basic principles. They are rooted in who you are at a fundamental level.
It takes a lot of introspection and personal reflection to begin to discern when we are making decisions from an emotional perspective (the negative emotions) and when we are making them from a gut level (the stable and dependable emotions).
I am here to help you on this journey and to help you with your leadership development. Reach out if I can be of any help to you today.