Article images14

Resonant Leadership

Resonant Leadership

 (Research May 2002 Consortium for Research in Emotional Intelligence)

Primal leadership means the first and most important act of leadership – and is a critical component of modern leadership to drive the collected emotions in a positive direction.  If people’s emotions are pushed towards the range of positive emotions such as enthusiasm, performance can soar, if drawn downward towards rancor and anxiety will produce sub-standard results.  When leaders drive emotions positively and bring out the best it is called resonant leadership –when negative is called dissonant leadership. Empirical evidence suggests that whether an organisation thrives or dives is dependent to a large extent on leaders’ effectiveness in this primal emotional dimension.

Recent studies of the brain reveal the neurological mechanism of primacy leadership and why EI is so crucial.

Open loop Mechanism

The human brain is also referred to as the “open loop “design as it is susceptible to external influences as opposed to a closed loop system such the circulatory system that is self regulating.


IQ mainly predicts what profession an individual can hold a job in – for instance, it takes a certain mental acumen to pass the bar exam.  Estimates are that in order to pass the requisite cognitive hurdles such as exams or required coursework or mastery of technical subjects and enter a profession like law, engineering or senior management, individuals need an IQ in the 110 to 120 range.  That means that once one is in the pool of people in a profession, one competes with people who are also at the high end of the bell curve for IQ.  This is why, even though IQ is a strong predictor of success among the general population, its predictive power for outstanding performance weakens greatly once the individuals being compared narrow to a pool of people in a given job in an organisation, particularly at higher levels.


Emotional intelligence will determine potential for learning the practical skills that underlie the four EQ clusters, our emotional competence shows how much of that potential we have realised by learning and mastering skills and translating intelligence into on-the-job capabilities.


In order for leaders to define meanings for others, it is vital to understand meanings for themselves. Knowing ones emotions (self awareness), managing those emotions, driving oneself, recognising emotions and appropriately handling relationships, are indicative of a leader who understands the nature of the forces within themselves.


They can direct energy to promote a shared sense of high quality performance and openness of communication between the top and the bottom of the corporate structure.  It is believed that only through self-understanding can a leader inculcate a positive philosophy into the organisation.


The reality of change makes EQ even more important where employees are more visible.  New competencies such as teamwork, and being able to control ones emotions count more than ever.  New challenges demand new talents.


“Technical proficiency or academic brilliance is a baseline competence”, says Ruth Jacobs a senior consultant at Hay/McBer.  “You need it to get the job and get it done, but how you do the jobdetermines your performance – if you are not able to translate your expertise into something useful that stands out – it makes little difference”


For more information, contact us on 011 781 1444.


Why Women Still Fill Less Than 15% Of Executive Leadership Positions

The glass ceiling, it appears, has not been broken.  Women still fill less than 15% of executive leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies and make up just 3.6% of CEO’s.


According to Robin Ely, Prof of Business Administration at Harvard, they have identified second-generation forms of subtle gender bias that have impeded women’s progress.  And to make it worse, much of it is unintentional practices and patterns that favour men and create structural career blocks for women.  Prof. Ely’s paper is the first to understand these biases and propose a new approach to developing women leaders.

Business leader

As most traditional leadership development for women is “add women and stir” basically delivering women what is delivered to men or “fix that woman – to be as good as a man” it ignores the basic systemic gender bias in organizations that are often deeply ingrained in workplace culture and society at large.  For example, women are ascribed to be friendly, emotional and unselfish, attributes that clash with larger societal beliefs about what a leader must be such as assertive, self confident and entrepreneurial – often seen as traditional masculine traits.  Women who do display those behaviours can be seen as abrasive instead of assertive, arrogant instead of self confident and self promoting instead of entrepreneurial.  These perceptions hold women back.  And the lack of role models to succeed also presents an additional stumbling block.  Additional biases include failure to consider women’s lives, hinderance to their ability to develop powerful networks and creating excessive performance pressure.

So what can women do to overcome this?

1. Create a strong women leadership identity – see yourself as a leader and be seen as a leader. The best process is through a series of action and feedback that affirms action and elevates confidence.

2. Develop an elevated sense of purpose – Leaders are most effective when their personal values align with the work they are doing and connect to something that is larger than themselves.  Re-direct participants away from a single minded focus on career advancement and managing other people’s perceptions of them as leaders and toward identifying larger leadership purposes and actions they need to undertake.

3. Create a workplace environment to support women’s identity.  Create a safe environment and peer networks that support participants in understanding and shaping who they are and who they can become.

4. Organisations must take responsibility for giving equal opportunities to their employees. Examine their assumptions they make about who is an “ideal worker” how they judge commitment and what they look for in leaders.  “If work cultures enabled both men and women to have full work and personal lives, it might help to level the playing field” Deborah Kolb Simmons School of Management.

By Gail Cameron