Tag: Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman on Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman

Watch a video of Goleman being interviewed about emotional intelligence here.

Last week, when I mentioned to my Twitter network that I needed to do some reading on ‘Leadership’, quite a few recommended the work of Daniel Goleman. Then, when I looked at the ‘Further Reading’ section of Jo Owen’s How to Lead that I’ve just started reading, Goleman was mentioned again. How to Lead cited some contributions Goleman made to the Harvard Business Review. Thankfully, I’ve access to this electronically through being a student at the University of Durham.

What follows are my notes and thoughts on 5 articles (and a letter) by Goleman, all published in the Harvard Business Review. Each subtitle is the name of Goleman’s article, along with the year published. 🙂

What make a Leader? (1998)

IQ-EQ icebergMany believe that leadership is an art rather than a science. Why? Because ‘every businessperson knows a story about a highly intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a leadership position only to fail at the job.’ Goleman believes that whilst IQ and technical skills are not irrelevant (they are ‘threshold capabilities’) but what is much more important is emotional intelligence. Indeed, Goleman asserts that his research shows that this is twice as important as a driver of outstanding performance compared to the other two factors.

Goleman states that emotional intelligence is made up of the following characteristics:

  • Self-Awareness – ‘the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others.’
  • Self -Regulation – ‘the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods’ and ‘the propensity to suspend judgment – to think before acting.’
  • Motivation – ‘a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status’ and ‘a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.’
  • Empathy – ‘the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people’ and ‘skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions.’
  • Social Skill – ‘proficiency in managing relationships and building networks’ and ‘an ability to find common ground and build rapport.’

Emotional intelligence is not easy, says Goleman, but it can be learned!

Leadership That Gets Results (2000)

Goleman contends that what leaders should do is get results. Pure and simple. The question is how is this achieved? Research by the consulting firm Hay/McBer found there are six main leadership styles ‘each springing from different components of emotional intelligence.’ Goleman likens these leadership styles to golf clubs in a seasoned professional’s bag: you choose the correct club (‘style’) for each shot (‘situation’).

The six styles are:

  1. Coercive – demand immediate compliance.
  2. Authoritative – motivate people towards a vision.
  3. Affiliative – create emotional bonds and harmony.
  4. Democratic – build consensus through participation.
  5. Pacesetting – demand excellent and self-direction.
  6. Coaching – developing people for the future.

These styles impact directly on the ‘climate’ of an organization, defined as comprising the following elements:

  • Flexibility – how free people are to innovate.
  • Responsibility – the sense of responsibility people have to the organization.
  • Standards – the standards that people set.
  • Rewards – the accuracy of performance feedback.
  • Clarity – how clear people are about mission and values.
  • Commitment – how committed people are to a common purpose.

Of the six styles, four of them act positively towards the climate of the organization and two in a negative sense. The two that damage the climate of an organization are Coercive (‘do as I say, now!’) and Pacesetting (‘do as I do, now!’). That being said, there are times, usually during times of crises when these leadership styles can prove effective in the short-term.

Being able to switch between the six styles is a matter of Emotional Intelligence, something akin to changing habits, says Goleman. It is something that can be learned and has to be practised.

Primal Leadership (2001)

Primal LeadershipGoleman, Boyatzis and McKee continued Goleman’s original research into emotional intelligence, coming up with the concept of leaders having an ’emotional style.’ This, they believe, sets the tone for the whole organization, that ‘the leader’s mood is quite literally contagious, spreading quickly and inexorably throughout the business.’

The authors state that the brain’s limbic system, it’s emotional centre, is an ‘open-loop’ system. Unlike self-regulating closed-loop systems, an open loop system relies on external sources to maintain itself. ‘In other words, we rely on connections with people to determine our moods.’ That’s why we find it difficult not to smile or laugh ourselves when we hear laughter. It is this that the emotionally intelligent leader needs to tap into as good moods, it would appear from the research, transmit more quickly that bad ones! 😀

Leaders cannot simply ask those further down the hierarchy for feedback on their emotional style. Why? Job security and the personal nature of such feedback are two very good reasons. Instead, leaders need to go on journeys of self-discovery and personal reinvention that are ‘neither newfangled nor born of pop psychology.’  The authors point towards eiconsortium.org as being a useful starting point.

The journey of self-discovery and personal reinvention, contend the authors, is a five-step process of asking questions:

  1. Who do I want to be?
  2. Who am I now?
  3. How do I get from here to there?
  4. How do I make change stick?
  5. Who can help me?

I find these questions, if I’m honest, a little patronising. But then, after studying Philosophy at university as an undergraduate, I’m fairly self-reflective in any case. What do you think? Useful questions or not?

Never Stop Learning (2004)

Emotional IntelligenceIn this very short article Goleman says that leaders can survive without much ’emotional intelligence’ if everything is going well for the business. However, this is exactly the time that leaders should be building up and developing their emotional intelligence for the downturn and potential crises.

The data shows that people’s emotional intelligence tends to increase with age, but this is not to say that it is a function of, and comes with, experience. One of the most frequent criticisms of newly-promoted leaders is that they lack empathy. The problem, of course, being that they have been promoted for their intelligence and outstanding performance rather than their leadership skills.

Leaders can improve their emotional intelligence if they are given:

  • Information – candid assessment of their strengths and limitations from people they can trust.
  • Guidance – a specific development plan using ‘naturally occurring workplace encounters as the laboratory for learning.
  • Support – someone to talk to as they practice how to handle different situations.

It’s hard to argue with the principles and ideas behind Goleman’s emotional intelligence, although I do wonder whether the inclusion of the word ‘intelligence’ is helpful… :-p

Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership (2008)

Research shows, says Goleman and Boyatzis, that certain things leaders do affects their brain chemistry and that of their followers. In fact,

researchers have found that the leader-follower dynamic is not a case of two (or more) independent brains reacting consciously or unconsciously to each other. Rather, the individual minds become, in a sense, fused into a single system.

Great leaders, say the authors, are at the opposite end of the ‘neural continuum’ than those with autism or Asperger’s, social disorders ‘characterized by underdevelopment in the areas of the brain associated with social interactions.’

Social IntelligenceThe authors therefore introduce the concept of social intelligence, ‘a set of interpersonal competencies built on specific neural circuits (and related endocrine systems) that inspire others to be effective.’ Pointing to recent research in neuroscience on ‘mirror neurons’ which act as ‘neural wifi’. When we detect other people’s (emotions through their actions), our mirror neurons reproduce these emotions, leading to a feeling of shared experience.

So, Goleman and Boyatzis say, the ‘old carrot-and-stick’ approach for encouraging people to perform better, doesn’t work. Smiles, laughter, nods and positive reinforcement are much more conducive to improving performance. Followers of effective leaders experience rapport with them – what the authors call ‘resonance’.

‘The only way to develop your social circuitry effectively,’ say Goleman and Boyatzis, ‘is to undertake the hard work of changing your behavior.’ Linking back to Primal Leadership, the authors believe this is a process of building a personal vision for change and gathering feedback. It is especially important to undergo this when things are going well, as during times of stress as ‘soaring cortisol levels and an added hard kick of adrenaline can paralyze the mind’s critical abilities.’ Leaders fall back into old habits during these times – all the more reason to become more self-reflective.

A Reply to Ken Otter (2009)

Finally, in a letter to the Harvard Business Review, Ken Otter gave his thoughts on an article by Goleman and Boyatzis. The authors took the time to reply to this, in which they made the following point – important and especially relevant to me about online communication:

Andrea Zambarda’s query about whether the brain’s social circuitry operates as well during communication by phone and videoconference as it does during face-to-face interactions raises an issue that is becoming increasingly important to companies. The brain’s circuitry picks up crucial social signals during communication, receiving the most during face-to-face interactions, somewhat fewer during videoconferences, and fewer still during phone calls. When communication is via e-mail or text alone, however, no emotional signals whatsoever are received, resulting in the greatest likelihood of missed cues.

…and that’s why I almost always put a smiley in my tweets, text messages and blog posts! 🙂

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Are organizations like brains?

Images of OrganizationAs part of my Ed.D. course through the University of Durham I had to take some taught modules. One of them that I took back in 2006 was entitled Management, Leadership & Change. It was an excellent course from which I gained a lot. Unfortunately, unlike many of my classmates, I wasn’t then at a time where I could use this knowledge being then only just finished my second year of teaching. Now that I’m in a position that carries more responsibility, management responsbilities and leadership opportunities, it’s time to revisit that course and related reading.

One of the books I read for the Management, Leadership & Change module was Gareth Morgan’s Images of Organization. I found it a revelation, especially being so fond as I am of metaphor. Morgan uses eight metaphors as a lens through which to view organizations:

  1. Organizations as Machines
  2. Organizations as Organisms
  3. Organizations as Brains
  4. Organizations as Cultures
  5. Organizations as Political Systems
  6. Organizations as Psychic Prisons
  7. Organizations as Flux and Transformation
  8. Organizations as Instruments of Domination

Each of these perspectives teaches the reader something about organizations; it’s a very clever and interesting way of presenting insights.

Having just come across this neat overview of Daniel Goleman‘s idea of the various leadership styles, I wonder how much overlap/synergy there is between the two?

Goleman - Leadership Styles

I’m especially interested in the idea of organizations as ‘organisms’, ‘brains’ or ‘cultures’ as I believe these lenses to be the most powerful for effecting positive change. The remainder of this post will look at organizations as ‘brains’.

Organizations as brains

Morgan starts off the chapter comparing brains to holographs where ‘everything is enfolded in everything else’, there is not centre or point of control and, most importantly,

Pattern and order emerge from the process – it is not imposed. (Morgan, 1998:73)

The philosopher Daniel Dennett, someone who I read fairly widely at university during my undergraduate degree in Philosophy, suggests that our highly-ordered stream of consciousness is actually the result of ‘a more chaotic process where multiple possibilities are generated as a result of activity distributed throughout the brain.’ (ibid.) Competing parallel activities can make complementary and competing contributions into a coherent pattern.

‘Just In Time’ and perceived chaos

Morgan gives the example of ‘Just In Time’ (JIT) manufacturing as being a process that is highly organized yet without ‘boundaries and patterns of membership’:

To an outsider, it may be impossible to distinguish who is working for whom. The fundamental organization really rests int eh complex informaiton system that coordinates the activites of all the people and firms involves rather then the discrete organizations contributing different elements  to the process. (Morgan, 1998:75)

Clay Shirky - Here Comes EverybodyThe above leads Morgan to wonder whether it is better to refer to a ‘system of intelligence’ rather than an ‘organization’ when describing such states of affairs. These systems break what Herbert Simon, Nobel laureate, called the ‘bounded rationality’ of human beings. To my mind it’s Morgan picking up on the start of what Clay Shirky has shown to be completely revolutionary in his excellent Here Comes Everybody (which I’m currently reading).

Understanding how organizations can become capable of learning in a brain-like way is similar to understanding how robots and other objects in the study of Cybernetics are able to ‘learn’. The latter discipline involves negative feedback. That is to say error-detection and correction happens automatically to maintain a course towards a desired goal. In order to be able to self-regulate, systems must be able to:

  1. Sense, monitor, and scan significant aspects of their environment.
  2. Relate this information to the operating norms that guide system behavior.
  3. Detect significant deviations form these norms, and
  4. Initiate corrective action when discrepancies are detected. (Morgan, 1998:77)

This negative feedback system is only as good as the procedures and standards that underlie it. So long as the action defined by these procedures and standards is appropriate dealing with the changes encountered, everything is fine. The ‘intelligence’ of the system breaks down, however, when these are not adequate leading to negative feedback attempting to maintain an inappropriate pattern of behaviour.

In order to prevent the above happening (so called ‘single-loop learning’) the model of ‘double-loop learning’ has been promoted by Donald Schön and Chris Argyris. This builds in a self-review ‘loop’ to the learning process:

Double-Loop Learning

Image cc-by-sa Ed Batista

There are three major barriers to double-loop learning: budgets, bureaucracy and accountability. One of the most famous examples of double-loop learning and organization being thwarted by these three barriers came with the US Challenger space shuttle explosion.

Learning organizations

So, how are ‘learning organizations’ created? Insights from cybernetics would suggest the following:

  • Scanning and anticipating change in the wider environment
  • Developing an ability to question, challenge and change operating norms and assumptions
  • Allow appropriate directions and patterns of organization to emerge (Morgan, 1998:82)

Morgan follows this with stressing the importance of ‘framing and reframing’ which reminds me of Lord Bilimoria’s discussion of the value of regular SWOT analyses (see this post). ‘Many organizations,’ says Morgan, ‘become myopic, accepting their current reality as the reality.’ (Morgan, 1998:84)

Organizations that embrace double-loop learning sound like the type of places I want to be part of:

For successful double-loop learning to occur, organizations much develop cultures that support change and risk taking; embrace the idea that in rapidly changing circumstances with high degrees of uncertainty, problems and errors are inevitable; promote an openness that encourages dialogue and the expression of conflicting points of view; recognize that legitimate error, which arises from the uncertainty and lack of control in a situation, can be used as a resource for new learning; recognize that since genuine learning is usually action based, organizations must find ways of helping to create experiments and probes so that they lear through doing in a productive way. (Morgan, 1998:85)

Emergent organization

Coming back to the metaphor of brains, the intelligence of the brain is not predetermined. It is not centrally driven. It is emergent. A top-down approach to management leads to single-loop learning and therefore is the opposite of such a model of emergence. To prevent chaos and incoherence targets should take the form of vision and value-sharing.

Morgan continues on to articulate a vision of ‘holographic organization’ based on five principles:

  1. Build the ‘whole’ into the ‘parts’ (i.e. ‘networked intelligence’)
  2. The importance of redundancy
  3. Requisite variety (i.e. ‘internal complexity must match that of the environment’)
  4. Minimum Specs (i.e. don’t define more that is absolutely necesssary)
  5. Learn to learn (i.e. ‘double-loop learning’)

Conclusion

After fleshing out these princples, Morgan concludes this chapter with listing the strengths and limitations of the brain metaphor.

Strengths:

  • Gives clear guidelines for creating learning organizations
  • Shows how IT can support the evolution of organizations
  • Gives a new theory of management based on the principles of self-organization
  • Addresses the importance of dealing with paradox

Limitations:

  • There could be conflict between the requirements of organizational learning and the realities of power and control
  • Learning for the sake of learning can become just another ideology

I can live with these limitations. I think the ‘organization as brain’ metaphor has a lot going for it. What do YOU think? 😀

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