authentic

Lincoln and Leadership

Lincoln LeadershipAs I watched Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln the other day (2012 Movie), I was struck by how his character displayed some key skills and abilities of Leadership. Hey I know it’s a just a movie, but the central character, well researched by Day-Lewis and director Spielberg, demonstrated  Leadership traits and skills that were often subtle and Authentic. I want to underline these while trying not to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet.

The Vision – he has a vision for how it can be. He speaks on issues of humanity, of the higher purpose and he talks about this being about global leadership – with all the world watching -clarifying how these changes are defining democracy not just for the US but for the world.

Belief – throughout the story Lincoln shines with belief. He knows what he wants, he sees it as good and he moves heaven and earth to get it done. He communicates his belief in every word and gesture on the topic. He energizes those around him and refuses to be diverted from what he knows is right.

The Power of the Story – At every juncture he illustrates his thinking with a story. The character glows with warmth and a twinkle in his eye while telling his stories. His personal charm shines through. One or two find his stories frustrating but in the main those around him enjoy them and he uses the power of these parables to explain in a simple way what it is he is trying to do and why.

Working with the team – Lincoln works well with the strong minded individuals in his cabinet, (he had appointed his rivals for the presidential election to his cabinet  – William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Simon Cameron and Edward Bates ) seeking their opinions and using conflict to refine his thinking.  He patiently explains the why and harnesses the power within the team to deliver the vision. Mostly he uses his team to get things done. Only once does he bring his personal power and authority to bear to drive on the final attempt to achieve his goals.

Awareness and humility – he is aware of his sometimes dark moods and also keenly aware of the intentions of those around him. In crux points he is not worried about going directly to those he intends to influence and with all humility appealing to their better self.

In all a masterful bit of work by Day-Lewis in portraying a masterful Leader. I have been an admirer of Lincoln since I heard the Gettysburg address speech read to me in a documentary on the American Civil War in the context of the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was the battle with the largest number of casualties (approximately 50,000 in 3 days) in the American Civil War and is often described as the war’s turning point.

Here I is again…  The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Aidan Higgins

The Emotional Intelligence Leadership Advantage

Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel.Horatio Walpole (1729)

I remember doing a course at the Irish Management Institute on communication. As I am a problem solving type I was sure and confident of my skills and when I took a test on Empathy I was confident of doing well. I did not do well.

I was of the opinion that people who had personal or emotional problems need to have it fixed and be motivated to either “get on with it” or work to fix the problem – with as much help from me as was required. This however was not empathic – which is defined as one’s ability to recognize, perceive and directly experientially feel the emotion of another. This of course involves listening to and “being there” for someone rather that immediately focusing on the problem. This introduced me to a world of emotion that I had assumed needed to be avoided to make clear logical decisions and make things happen. Clearly I lacked a natural appreciation of Emotion in others and probably myself.

Emotional Intelligence was simply defined by Savoley and Mayer as “the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them … to guide ones own feelings and actions”. They further explain the benefits of Emotional Intelligence thus:

“When people approach life’s tasks with Emotional Intelligence, they should be at an advantage for solving problems adaptively …The sorts of problems people identify and the way they frame them will probably be more related to internal emotional experience than will be the problems addressed by others.”

The take up in popular culture and now business and academic culture of Emotional Intelligence has been driven somewhat by linking Emotional Intelligence to “success” in life and business and to the very popular 1995 Goleman book on Emotional Intelligence in which he questioned the factors that cause people of high IQ to flounder and those of modest IQ to do surprisingly well. Goleman suggested that the difference lies in the abilities called Emotional Intelligence, which include self control, persistence and the ability to motivate oneself.

Higgs and Dulewicz of Henley Management College who I came across during my MBA studies found also that corporate interest appeared to be strongly related to the search for a way of securing a competitive advantage through attention to developing human capital. They also suggest Emotional Intelligence contributes to success noting:  “The roots of the development of the concept of emotional intelligence appear to lie in the apparent inability of traditional measures of “rational thinking” … to predict who will succeed in life.

The idea of relating Emotional Intelligence to success in life also needs qualification re: the nature of “success” (as it obviously means different things to different people) and some for example refer to it at different stages as “life success” “success in their chosen field of endeavour” “success in the organisational context” etc. Goleman’s illustrated this by pointing out that given IQ and technical competences are equal with two individuals one becomes and English professor and the other the Head of the English Department – the difference between the two being the higher Emotional Quotient of the latter.

Emotional Intelligence also plays a key role in leadership and management and Goleman found that Emotional Intelligence plays an increasingly important role at the highest levels of the company, where differences in technical skills are of negligible importance. This correlation is very interesting in the Organisational context and even more interestingly he also found that the higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more Emotional Intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for this effectiveness.

The importance of Emotional Intelligence has lead to extensive media coverage and great interest from all walks of life. There is no doubt in my mind that Emotional Intelligence is an important topic for Occupational Psychology, for Human Resource Management and that it has huge potential value for Manager, Leaders and HR professionals and also teachers, educationalists and counselors.

Aidan Higgins

Leadership in a Crisis

Daniel Goleman explains why Barack O’Bama is so Emotionally Intelligent. Perhaps we would like to see a little more of this in our Leaders. Developing awareness and ability to control emotions is particularly useful in a crisis. Goleman is a thought leader in this area.

2019-04-10T09:21:37+00:00December 10th, 2012|Discussion, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership|