The Importance of Emotional Intelligence for a Leader

       Emotional intelligence appears to be a distinguishing feature of successful leaders. We hear of leaders who defy conventional wisdom and logic and are successful anyway because they went with their feelings rather than pure logic.
       Jacques (1996) pointed out that industrial era thinking marginalized the entire domain of relational practice including emotions, nurturing, and empathy. Furthermore, in the 21st century, relational skill will be increasingly important for effectively organizing but these skills are not typically found in an industrial workplace.   To relate and nurture implies an emotional connection to another person. It implies that we acknowledge and value their feelings. Cooper and Sawaf (1996) state, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence” (p.xiii).
        In addition, Bass (1990, p. 111) cites research that confirms that emotional expresivity, emotional sensitivity, and emotional control are important social skills for a modern leader. Factor this in with Jacques (1996) and Cooper and Sawaf (1996) and it becomes obvious that emotional intelligence is important to success in the 21st century.


Bass, B. M., & Stogdill, R. M. (1990). Bass & Stogdill’s handbook of leadership : Theory, research, and managerial applications ( 3rd ed.). New York: Free Press.

Cooper, R., & Sawaf, A. (1996). Executive EQ: Emotional intelligence in leadership and organizations. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group.

Jacques, R. (1996). Manufacturing the employee: Management knowledge from the 19th to 21st centuries. London: Sage Publications.


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