Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Written by Larry Fehd, CEO & Founder / HPS

Intelligence quotient (IQ) is by far the most widely recognized measurement of human intelligence in the world. However, recent research has confirmed that this traditional view of human intelligence may be too narrow. Another more significant form of intelligence contributes even more to leadership effectiveness.

These same research findings also confirm that Emotional Intelligence is the single most significant factor influencing leadership effectiveness. The data suggests that leaders with well developed Emotional Intelligence competencies ascend to, remain at, and consistently perform at higher levels and are often viewed as exemplars within the organization. These exemplary leaders also motivate and inspire individuals, teams, and organizations to even higher levels of performance.

Psychologists suggest that IQ (cognitive intelligence) is fixed and static and does not change significantly during the course of a lifetime. However, Emotional Intelligence (non-cognitive intelligence) can be developed and improved in a reasonably short period.

While the concept of Emotional Intelligence is not new within academic circles, it is rapidly evolving from a theoretical concept to a number of tangible and practical applications offering many unique competitive advantages. Savvy business leaders are beginning to leverage the power of Emotional Intelligence by harnessing these competitive advantages and improving bottom-line business results.

Daniel Goleman made Emotional Intelligence popular when he wrote the NY Times bestseller Emotional Intelligencein 1995. According to Goleman’s research, “The difference between average and superior performance in leadership roles is at least 90%, or almost completely, dependent on Emotional Intelligence.”

One of our colleagues, Dr. Edmond Bazerghi, Ph.D., of the Center for Executive Assessment, who recently developed an individual and 360-degree Emotional Intelligence assessment, illustrates this concept below:

Significance of Emotional
Intelligence vs. Technical Skills
for High-Performance Leadership
gold = Emotional Intelligence
black = Technical Skills
 © 2002 Center for Executive
Assessment, Dr. Edmond Bazerghi,
PhD. All rights reserved.


As Dr. Bazerghi’s illustration shows, as leadership responsibilities expand and grow, the skills and knowledge for effective Leadership Performance must also expand and grow. Thus, Emotional Intelligence becomes increasingly important at higher levels within the organization.

Think about leaders you have admired at some point in your career. What specific behaviors and characteristics made them so special? What was so unique about their leadership style that inspired you (and perhaps others on the team) to do your very best? Chances are the answers to these questions correspond to their level of Emotional Intelligence.

Experts suggest that business productivity could easily be doubled if employee needs were being met more consistently. This doesn’t mean giving the farm away—far from it—but rather ensuring that both employee and business needs get met. Imagine your employees (or yourself for that matter) bringing 100% to work everyday. How would this impact productivity, innovation, customer service, quality, reliability, waste reduction, time management, and competitive advantage, among other key business drivers?

Bringing 100% to work requires a combination of IQ and Emotional Intelligence and encourages 100% of potential. Closing the gap between current levels of performance and fullest potential translates to incredible business opportunities. 100% of potential means more fully engaging and leveraging existing resources, which in these times is essential and could mean the difference between average and exceptional performance and business results.

One of the most compelling cases for developing the Emotional Intelligence of leaders is the acceleration of the leadership development process. Since exemplary leadership corresponds with Emotional Intelligence competency, developing these competencies—and supporting behaviors—can literally accelerate the leadership development process and improve overall effectiveness.

Johnson & Johnson is widely recognized for their exceptional leadership development programs. However, Johnson & Johnson’s Chairman and CEO, Ralph Larsen, once described the company’s dilemma as follows: “As we look at our growth projections over time, we’re going to need more and more leaders. Effective leadership is the biggest single constraint to growth at Johnson & Johnson, and it is the most critical business issue we face.”

Larsen’s quote is interesting for at least two reasons: (1) he defines leadership as a business issue, and (2) he mentions constraint in the context of leadership. Typically, constraints are defined using terms such as financial, headcount, manufacturing capacity, logistics, technology, etc. Obviously, business issues and constraints are taking on new meaning and leadership effectiveness taking on greater importance in today’s business environments.

In summary, Emotional Intelligence provides exemplary leaders with an edge to perform at their best and inspire the best from their people.

Larry Fehd


Larry Fehd is CEO and founded Human Performance Strategies (HPS) in 2000 following a successful career with Johnson & Johnson where he led executive leadership, team and organizational development. He is masterful at helping clients to break through inertia and the status quo.  He conceived the new and proprietary concept of Invitational Leadership™. He envisions the future of leadership as a passage beyond inertia and status quo and works with clients to develop invitational leaders at all levels of the organization.  He consults to a diverse group of U.S. and international clientele, and speaks and writes about, building high-performance leaders, cultures, teams and organizations.

(512) 415-0748

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