October 2014

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November's edition of Pathways to Success again focuses on issues of Leadership. This month we enrich the understanding of leadership by introducing the issue of EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) and the work on leadership by Daniel Goleman. We all recognize successful leaders and admire their qualities; this month we find how we, too, can master skills that allow each of us to be successful and effective leaders. Please forward this email to colleagues and friends if you found them valuable and encourage them to sign up to receive future newsletters by completing the information available on my website. Thanks for your continued support and interest!


Steve Terusaki, President of SEIDO ConsultingSteve Terusaki
SEIDŌ Consulting
The Soft Skills of Leadership


Last month's article on Leadership sets the tone for this month's discussion on additional aspects of leadership. In review, last month I offered a results-based definition of Leadership where being a successful leader is the ability to set goals, achieve results and create positive change. This month I continue to discussion with a focus on the "soft skills" of leadership.


In organizations where leaders rise from the ranks there is a transition between a reliance on being the expert in technical issues to the importance of being an expert in people issues. That transition is described in the Skills Curve diagram.


When we start our careers, we are primarily involved in "doing the work." Our organizations depend on our ability to effectively utilize our technical knowledge and skills to complete tasks. A small portion of our job responsibilities may be to work with others as part of a team and interact and collaborate effectively, but the primary focus is to be an individual contributor. As we achieve success as an individual contributor, we are promoted and take on new roles and responsibilities as "team leaders." Not only is use of technical skills and knowledge important, but the ability to work with people and manage others becomes a larger part of our job responsibilities.


The shift to people issues and people skills is a significant transition and continues as we climb up the ladder to Top Management and to C-suite executives. This transition requires movement from learning-based knowledge and skills (loosely defined in this article as IQ - intelligence quotient) to an array of skills that help to understand one's self and others' emotions and motives (loosely defined in this article as EQ - emotional intelligence quotient.) The IQ - EQ transition requires a different set of learning skills than the mastery of technical issues. EQ is behavior-based and the development of new behaviors requires changing the underlying attitudes that cause the behavior. The process of increasing one's EQ requires reinforcement and practice over time to reset the new attitudes that allow new behaviors.


EQ: the Soft Skills of Leadership

EQ has been a topic in leadership work since Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence, New York: Random House, 1995.

Goleman describes four (4) areas of Emotional Intelligence: two areas focused on understanding one's own self; two about interacting with others.

  • Self Awareness: Being able to recognize and understand one's                                                                  moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others
  • Self Management: Being able to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods; the propensity to suspend judgment - to think before acting
  • Social Awareness (empathy): Having skills at sensing others' emotions, perspectives, read organizational culture, navigate politics; meet customers' needs in making decisions
  • Social Skills: Having proficiency in managing relationships, building networks; ability to find common ground & build rapport
Proficiency in these four areas has a direct effect on the ability to master the People Issues side of the Skills Curve and therefore the ability to continue to higher levels of leadership. 

EQ becomes particularly important in assessing which "leadership style" to bring to bear in any particular situation. Based on research by Hay/McBer and published in the Harvard Business Review, Mar-Apr 2000, Daniel Goleman has offered the following six (6) styles. Each style has a primary objective:

  • Coercive:immediate compliance from people.
  • Visionary:providing long-term direction and vision for people.
  • Affiliative creating harmony among people and between leader and team.
  • Democratic: building commitment and consensus among people
  • Pace-setting: accomplishing tasks to a high standard of excellence.
  • Coaching: long-term professional development of people

These leadership styles are valuable tools in the "kit of tools" on the people side of the EQ Skills diagram. Successful leaders can bring to bear the most appropriate "style" required to achieve the desired results and to effect "positive" change for the situation at hand. The determination of which "style" to enlist is informed by both the "self" awareness and management areas of EQ, but also by the "social" awareness and skills of EQ.


For example, when the situation is to heal rifts in a team or to motivate people during stressful circumstances, the leader's ability to manage relationships, find common ground and build rapport (social skills) would be important in evaluating whether to enlist an "Affiliative" style, or a more "Coaching" approach to the situation. On the other hand, when in a crisis, kick-starting a turn-around, or dealing with problem employees, having self-management abilities and social awareness around reading politics of the situation are important in helping to assess whether the "Coercive" style or the "Pace-setting" style of leadership would be more effective. In each specific situation, proficiency and maturation of EQ skills are important determinants in choosing the most appropriate leadership style.


Leadership is the ability to set goals, achieve results and create positive change, but it is informed and enhanced by a mastery of the "soft skills" of leadership.