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"The longest journey is the journey inwards."
Dag Hammarskold

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In a coaching session this afternoon a client was concerned about the behaviour of another manager and in expressing frustration said, “does s/he not see how ‘stupid’ s/he’s being?” Now, from what the client has said in the past about this other person, I’m sure that neither of these people are ‘stupid’, and in fact my clinet did apologize for using that word. What might be occuring for both of them is a difference in EQ, that is emotional intelligence rather than IQ.

Now the study of EQ, popularized here in North America by Daniel Goleman, has lead to a number of interesting discoveries, one of which is outlined in a report of a study published in the September 2010 Harvard Business Review. (“When Emotional Reasoning Trumps IQ”) Here’s what they found:

“The area of the brain people tend to associate with strategic thought is the prefrontal cortex, known for its role in execuive function. It allows humans to engage in anticipation, pattern recongnition, probability assessment, risk appraisal and abstract thinking….However when we examined the best strategic performers in our sample, we found significantly less neural activity in the prefrontal cortext than in the areas associated with ‘gut’ responses, empathy, and emotional intelligence….In other words, the concsious executive function was downplayed, while regions associated with unconcious emotion operated more freely.”

In short, the best strateic performers in this study were the most adept at the competencies associated with emotional intelligence, including (from Goleman’s work), self awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Yes, to be the best leaders we can be, we need to manage to a budget and introduce innovative and creative products and processes into our organizations, but vitally, we need also to know ourselves, manage ourselves, work with the feelings and the social networks in our organitions and manage conflict. None of us are ‘stupid.’ Some of miss vital information, be that concrete data, or emotional cues