Transformational leadership and its relationship to emotional intelligence

transformational leadership in action

Smiling African American businessman at company meetingBrowse the internet and you’ll read an increasing number of articles about emotional intelligence (and its related concept emotional quotient (EQ) and its relevance and importance. But what is it and what does in the context of transformational leadership and your search for talent?

Defining EQ
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as those of others. Emotional intelligence is generally said to encompass three skills: emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same, as explained in an article on Psychology Today.

But what’s often missing from the narrative is how EQ — specifically empathy — can and does enhance the business world. Some might find the two concepts to be at odds—profit and emotional labor — but that’s simply not the case. There’s a lot to gain from using empathy as a tool to better understand another’s perspective in the context of our professional lives. Indeed it’s the very crux of transformational leadership.

Per VeryWellMind, “transformational leadership is a leadership style that can inspire positive changes in those who follow. Transformational leaders are generally energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate. Not only are these leaders concerned and involved in the process; they are also focused on helping every member of the group succeed as well.”

In order to do that, transformational leaders are keen on keeping lines of communication open. They also tend to be genuine, passionate, supportive, and trustworthy — all key characteristics that motivate followers to support the organization’s goals. Of course, transformational leaders also know that empathy is wrapped up in all of that.

What is empathy?
Empathy is neither elusive nor conceptual. On the contrary, it’s a skill that all of us would benefit from implementing on the regular and thereby adding value to our organizations. Here’s how:

● Understanding customer needs and improving a product or service based on consumer feedback can give you as an organization a newfound perspective.
● Employee relations and morale can benefit from understanding the skills and styles of each person and how that can inform and enhance workplace dynamics
● Empathy-driven, transformational leadership can help you understand others while commanding a better understanding the truest aspects of your own self.

Transformational leadership and EQ

An EQ-centric approach may seem more intuitive on a one-on-one level, but there’s a lot to be gained in making it a part of an organization’s cultural footprint. Just how important is empathy at the corporate level? Here’s one example. Whatever your opinion of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, he has made a bold statement about the company’s values and how every customer interaction should be approached through the lens of empathy. He’s made his email address public and ostensibly reads every note from customers, per his comments made in an April 2018 on-stage interview at the George Bush Presidential Center. Business Insider captured a few of those remarks:

“We have tons of metrics,” Bezos explained. “When you are shipping billions of packages a year, you need good data and metrics: Are you delivering on time? Delivering on time to every city? To apartment complexes? … Whether the packages have too much air in them, wasteful packaging?”

In other words, that feedback can provide a look under the hood, so to speak. If data seems to contradict customer sentiment, he’s apt to believe the customers. His rationale?

“The thing I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. There’s something wrong with the way you are measuring it,” he explained.

Empathy leads to better results

In short, company performance can’t be merely stripped down to a quarterly earnings statement. On the contrary, the human element is perhaps even more indicative of a company’s future success That’s where EQ can be leveraged for the greater good. It allows us better to understand the people whose lives to which we are trying to add value. And in the process, we gain fresh perspective and insight that can drive more strategic decisions and better results.

The understated value of empathy is the connection it helps us form with other people. Some of us are naturally more in tune on an emotional level while others can be less perceptive. But empathy, like many skills, is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s learned, developed and applied when and where needed. And that’s good for business, and the world!

Go deeper

Does your organization place a value on recruiting emotionally intelligent candidates? If not, you’re missing out on an opportunity to engage on a deeper level. Traditional intelligence (IQ) is not as hard to find; emotionally evolved leaders are more like diamonds in the rough.

Y Scouts can help you leverage transformational leadership and your talent acquisition strategy to find your next executive. Hiring must be more than a top-down approach. At Y Scouts, we are driven by passion and empathy to find the right person and deliver on a forward-looking vision. That’s hiring on purpose. It’s what we do.