There’s a growing world of information and knowledge around how to improve leadership. It’s almost overwhelming. And at the same time, it’s hard to know what’s got legs, what’s just a fad and what’s snake oil.
I’ve been interested in the topic of emotional intelligence for a long time now. In the early days it felt like a fresh new perspective on what drives people. Dan Pink, around the same time, was talking about autonomy, mastery and purpose. Independent psychology consultancies were developing their own tools. Salovey Mayer and Baron were some of the names leading the way. A consortium arose wanting to provide rigour and force behind studying the topic.
Daniel Goleman has a lot to answer for. It’s widely acknowledged now that he didn’t start this type of thinking, but he certainly did give it a big push. Well done that man.
I remember back in 2007 (not that long ago now) first hearing of the work of Paul Ekman and microexpressions. I was captivated and hungry to know more. Malcolm Gladwell wrote Blink around then and was writing about Facial Action Coding Systems.
And today there seems to be a big focus for reflection. Some call it mindfulness, some call it reflective practise, some call it tree-hugging nonsense. There is a place for this. Reflection is supportive of raising self-awareness. It is supportive of understanding your own emotions and thoughts better. It is supportive of examining and analysing personal approaches to life and to work.
The final piece, which seems to be more supportive than it is revelatory, is how we understand neuroscience and its part in developing understanding of the human condition. Technology is allowing us to really start to explore the brain well and understand how behaviours function and how chemical reactions change the way we behave. There is fascinating information coming forward but we’re at proper early doors with this understanding.
There’s a lot out there just on the topic of EI to get lost in. A lot of people claiming to have the right answer and advocating a certain way of being. In an age of information being available readily, it’s harder to be seen as a leader in the field.
On Friday 20th March, I’m going to be attending the EQ Summit in London. It’s being hosted by Roche Martin with Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Business School. They’ve got the likes of Harvard Business Review curating the event for them and Dan Pink delivering a keynote and panel session. I’ve been invited to blog at the event and I’m totally there.
I’m not expecting big answers from the day. That’s too much of an ask, and it’s unlikely to happen. I am expecting to hear some clear thoughts on how the field of EI has developed into a thing to be taken seriously. I don’t really care about how it’s helped the executives of a big corporate beast to deliver more financial performance. I really want to hear some further things on how EI is helping us understand the human condition.
*For clarity, emotional intelligence is often given the abbreviation EQ as well as EI. This was an effort to liken it to IQ – intelligence quotient.