“Emotions are enmeshed in the neural networks of reason.” — Antonio Dumasio
As leaders of the twenty-first century step forward to tackle the challenges brought about by the rapidly and continually changing complexities of economic and global reform, it is critical for them to respond with insight, awareness, creativity, and a deep understanding of the impact of their social and emotional skills on the success of the people and programs they are leading.
Leaders, no matter the level or setting, are assumed to be experts at competently navigating the social and emotional challenges inherent to their work. The ability to work well with people is central to everything a leader does. Unfortunately, most leaders never receive the training they need to master these skills. This results in ineffective leadership, difficulty changing the culture and climate among staff, avoidance of difficult situations, low morale and motivation in the workplace, and high levels of professional and personal stress. Developing skills in social and emotional intelligence results in a more positive leadership experience and a workplace environment more conducive to success by engendering more trusting relationships, improved communication, staff collaboration, and an overall increase in performance and well-being for both leaders and their staff.
Daniel Goleman's theory of emotional intelligence, first popularized in the 1990s, has illuminated the relationship between social and emotional skills and successful leadership. Still being taught and applied 20 years later, the theory supports the development of four competencies necessary for effective leadership. The competencies are presented (see chart) as an interconnected set of skills which enable leaders to engender enthusiasm and motivation in employees while cultivating an environment of trust and cooperation.