Daniel Goleman: boosting your CEO’s emotional intelligence

One of the dilemmas of rising to the top of an organisation is that the number of people a CEO may consider confidantes tends to shrink. Because of this, developing strong emotional intelligence in a CEO is key.

There are a number of ways for CEOs to develop self-awareness, with a view to improving emotional intelligence and enabling organisational culture shifts, according to emotional intelligence (EI) expert Daniel Goleman.

One of the dilemmas of rising to the top of an organisation is that the number of people a CEO may consider confidantes tends to shrink, said Goleman.

“A CEO needs a trustworthy coach, someone who will be candid, but with a purpose: helping that leader develop further strengths,” he said.

HR executives can help set the stage for this by positioning executive coaching as a positive perk, both professionally and personally, according to Goleman, who is widely considered the father of EI.

Beyond that, he said HR can find effective coaches and be sure they use a well-grounded 360 instrument.

“In some organisations HR execs might themselves fill the role of coach, [but] in others they help top leaders find their way to a well-qualified leadership coach,” he said.

“Knowledge workers do their best innovation a step at a time, in those windows where they are protected from other duties – a creative cocoon”

There are also a number of ways in which organisations are apply emotional intelligence in practice for business benefits, Goleman added.

“The trend towards providing training in self-management methods, like mindfulness, strikes me as a way to upgrade personal skills like concentration, self-awareness and self-management,” he said.

Goleman believes that such training would benefit from a component which encourages people to be more empathic and considerate of their peers, which would make teams more effective.

Many organisations are also looking for ways to improve innovation and add competitive advantage, and Goleman said leaders need to take a step back in this process and let innovation occur more naturally.

“While many executives believe that high pressure boosts innovation, studies from Harvard find that knowledge workers do their best innovation a step at a time, in those windows where they are protected from other duties – a creative cocoon,” he said.

“HR can help by surfacing this fact, and encouraging managers to help create such daily cocoons.”

Goleman also acknowledge that a shortage of talent is one of the main critical issues facing business over the remainder of the decade, along with an increased focus on dealing with a diverse range of colleagues and customers, as well as more pressing environmental constraints.

“Attracting and keeping talent puts a premium on creating a workplace climate and relationships that breed loyalty – as well as finding ways to emphasise the deeper purpose and meaning of the work people do as part of a larger mission,” he said.

“The kind of empathy that lets someone get along well and bond with people from a different group will have increasing value – this can both be selected for and further developed.”

Image: supplied. Daniel Goleman’s new book, A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, will be released on June 23, 2015.