Now that I have shared the definition of emotional intelligence (EI), I want to talk about how it relates to leadership. I truly believe that emotional intelligence is key to a leader’s long-term effectiveness. Understanding and managing your own emotional responses requires emotional intelligence. The most effective leaders have a deeper understanding of their emotions.
I have experienced this myself both serving as the leader and serving as a team player under a variety of leaders (some possessed EI and others did not). I recently completed two consecutive terms on the Board of Trustees for Mississippi State Medical Association and past chapter President for several organizations. During that time, I found that possessing emotional intelligence allowed me and the students I both served and represented to contribute greatly to our organization’s goals. There is a balance between self-interest and selfless interest. Achieving a position on the Board of Trustees did not happen overnight. I started out as a member, and I worked hard to develop relationships and prove myself to fulfill the role by completing tasks that were asked of me and not asked of me.
After all, I wanted to advance in my career, but I was also motivated by being able to help and engage students to advocate for patients and our profession. I also found myself maintaining a balance between engaging the people I worked with and maintaining a distance from them. I wanted to ensure each officer felt valued, but I also wanted to make sure a level of professionalism was maintained. It was also important for me to understand the emotional needs of my executive council. I cannot ask them to do something I would not do myself for the organization, and it is important to remain respectful of everyone’s time as we have personal lives in addition to medical school training.
Lastly, effective leaders use self-awareness to identify and overcome their blind spots. Self-awareness can be a great strength, as you can then move to a level of self-improvement via feedback. So, what are your thoughts on emotional intelligence being the key to a leader’s long-term effectiveness?