Leadership Blog

The Leadership Equation

The equation “Leadership = IQ+MQ+EQ” strikes a chord.  By the way, don't think of it as frivolous.  It comes from a very serious piece of academic research.

Rising managers have an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) that is largely fixed.  They have a Management Quotient (MQ) that can be acquired from training and development in a traditional way, learning organisational skills, budgeting finance and project planning and so on.  What they most need when given responsibility to lead others is Emotional Quotient (EQ).  It can be learned, but it requires a particular, experiential style of learning that does not come easily.

People with emotional intelligence are able to adapt their style in that they are able to tune in emotionally to their surroundings and respond appropriately.  This level of sensitivity and emotional awareness is demonstrated in a range of styles, six styles, that are associated with high levels of emotional intelligence.

Think of emotional and social intelligence as a “two-sided coin” which means being able to manage yourself (emotional) and those around you (social).  It is about,

  • being able to manage your emotions appropriately in whatever context you find yourself
  • being able to manage your relationships with others and change how you deal with others in a variety of situations.

When most people think of intelligence, they think of aspects such as memory, problem-solving and the ability to process ideas, grasp concepts and manage information in a variety of forms. This is the kind of intelligence broadly measured by Intelligent Quotient (IQ) tests.

Others will argue that there are aspects of intelligence not covered by IQ tests that are just as valuable.  These include creativity, communication, sensitivity, initiative and interpersonal skill. For instance, when predicting job performance, the contribution of IQ has been estimated as low as 4% and no higher than 25%. 

The more your work requires leadership, the more important emotional intelligence becomes.  This is because you are now expected more to lead people and less to do hands-on, operational tasks.   Doing well as a leader in any situation has a lot to do with levels of emotional intelligence. 

Four Areas of Competency

There are four areas of competency that can be associated with emotional intelligence.  These are described by Daniel Goleman as emotional capabilities.  Emotional capabilities are the building-blocks for a more specific set of skills and attributes, called emotional competencies.  It is these emotional competencies that can have a real impact on how you perform as a leader.  In a study on leaders and their engagement styles Goleman identified a set of emotional competencies. Goleman categorised these according to the emotional competencies referred to in the table below. 

Emotional Capabilities and Competencies



Social Awareness

Social Skills

Emotional self- awareness

Accurate self-assessment






Drive to meet internal excellence



Organisational awareness

Ability to recognise customer needs

Visionary leadership


Developing others


Change catalyst

Conflict management

Building bonds



Different combinations of these competencies result in different styles: an authoritative person, for instance, will tend to be strong in the competencies of self-confidence, empathy and change catalyst.  A well-rounded person will, however, be able to pick and mix between these capabilities at will, and might use several of six identified styles referred to below.

Most people are unlikely to have the natural ability or acumen to be able to use all six styles and this is why some people stand out in this regard.  For most of us we will have to learn and adapt and the only way to do that is to make the effort to practice and embed new behaviours associated with high emotional and social intelligence.

For example, to use the Coaching Style effectively you will need to learn to be empathetic.  By focusing on learning to listen and then to understand accurately what people are saying (or really mean) we will become more attuned to other people and eventually develop a real sense of empathy – it can be learned. 

Please note that empathy is not the same as sympathy (we don’t have to share the other person’s emotions) and we don’t have to agree with them.  It is just about understanding and communicating that you understand things from their perspective.  This will put people at ease and build trust, leading to a better relationship.

Six Emotionally Intelligent Styles

1.Coercive or Commanding

The coercive or commanding style emanates from the emotional intelligence competencies: drive to achieve, initiative and self-control.  Research suggests it is the least effective style in most situations, hitting flexibility particularly hard. However it has its place, for example, where people trust and expect you, to make decisions for them. It is always appropriate during a genuine emergency, but should be used with great care.]


The authoritative style emanates from the emotional intelligence competencies: self-confidence, empathy, and change catalyst.  The research indicates that the authoritative style is probably the most effective, having a positive impact on all environmental factors.  As a visionary, the authoritative leader is able to maximise commitment to goals and strategy.

The approach will work well in almost any situation, especially when the situation is floundering.  It works less well, however, for people working with a team of experts or peers who are more experienced than they are.


This style emanates from the emotional intelligence competencies: empathy, building relationships, communication.  The affiliative style is founded in the belief that ‘people come first’ and consequently tries to create harmony by building strong emotional bonds.  The approach will improve communication, as people will begin to share ideas and this will increase inspiration.  Flexibility will also be improved as people are given the freedom to do their jobs in the way which they think is most effective.

The affiliative style makes it a good all-round approach, but it is particularly helpful when trying to build harmony, increase morale, improve communication or repair a breakdown in trust.  It is probably best used in conjunction with another style, as its emphasis on praise can fail to address poor performance. This approach can also, on its own, fail to give clear direction.


This style emanates from the emotional intelligence characteristics: collaboration, group leadership and communication.  This approach is based on getting people’s ideas and support, and allowing people a say in decisions.  This builds trust and commitment, increases flexibility and maintains high morale.  It works best if the person is uncertain about the future direction and leans on experienced others for ideas and guidance.

The approach is less likely to work where employees lack the competence, knowledge or experience to offer sound advice. It can be particularly inappropriate in times of crisis.


This style emanates from the emotional intelligence characteristics: conscientiousness, drive to achieve, and initiative.  The pace-setting person sets high personal performance standards and expects others to meet them also.  Those who cannot measure up are likely to find themselves being replaced.  The pace-setter does not trust others to work in their own way or to take the initiative.  The result is that the pace-setting style can destroy a positive organisational environment, as people feel they will never be good enough and their morale falls.  Flexibility and responsibility also disappear.

However, the approach can work well if people are self-motivated, skilled and only require a minimum of coordination and direction.  People such as  professionals, researchers and technicians, for example, will often respond well to this style.


This style emanates from the emotional intelligence competencies: empathy, developing others and self-awareness.  People who coach both help others to identify their strengths and weaknesses and link them to higher goals.  They also encourage people to develop a personal development plan.

The research suggests that this is the least used of the six styles; probably most people think it too time-consuming.  However, it can improve results by increasing flexibility and commitment.  It works best with people who are already aware of their strengths and weaknesses and really want to be coached.  The approach is best avoided if people are resistant to change and learning, are unwilling participants in the process or the leader lacks the expertise to be a good coach.

Learning to Apply Emotional Intelligence

Many people may find the range of emotional competencies rather daunting. The good news is that expanding your repertoire of competencies is possible; in a way that increasing one’s IQ is not. Adapting your emotional or social intelligence style isn’t easy, but it is certainly achievable. 


Tips on How to Motivate Your Team

Every team suffers from occasional dips in energy and motivation, which can affect team performance.  There are many reasons why this occurs, and it can manifest itself in a number of different ways, whether it’s through a fall in productivity, high levels of staff turnover, a lack of buzz around the office or actual feedback from your team.  If you suspect your team members are feeling low, the following suggestions will help you form an action plan for boosting morale and increasing performance.

It’s not always about more money…

Contrary to popular perception, almost all studies on employee motivation show that compensation is not the predominant reason why people leave their jobs for supposedly greener pastures.  Rather, studies continually find that people are eager to grow and develop into their jobs, relishing new opportunities and responsibilities.  Time and again, management literature points to the creation of an optimum working environment as the most effective way of boosting morale.

In trying to create this optimum environment, you should give careful consideration to the following points:

1. Appreciation

Exit interviews and employee questionnaires regularly show that people often leave an employer because they haven’t received the recognition they feel they deserve, or proper feedback on how they are doing.

Expressing appreciation is the first step in creating an atmosphere that will motivate people. Such expressions should be made to all team members doing their jobs well, and not just those with responsibility for the bigger, riskier pieces of work. It is important that individuals who are doing well are brought to the attention of the team/organisation and praised for their efforts.

Try to:

  • Give a team member verbal praise on immediate completion of a successful project and share this achievement with the team.
  • Be specific with any praise you give, referring to particular examples.
  • Meet regularly with individuals to review what they’ve achieved.
  • Be honest – if some aspects of the work are exemplary, whilst others could do with a little revising or fine-tuning, explain to the individual that you would like to talk this through with them.
  • Remember, that although it is not possible for every organisation at all times, tangible rewards such as bonuses, extra holidays or work nights out are extremely effective ways of expressing appreciation.
  • Meet regularly as a team to discuss what has been achieved.
  • Celebrate team or organisational success: when a project is completed don’t rush on to the next one without first stopping to acknowledge both individual and team accomplishments.

2. Involvement

Another point that regularly crops up in employee questionnaires is the need to feel involved in their work and important to the success of their companies.  Of course, it would be completely impractical to involve everyone in every decision, discussion or project that ever takes place, but allowing for greater team member contribution, especially around initiatives that will directly affect them, gives people a sense of inclusion and importance.

In the workplace, if people are rarely involved in the decision-making process, or they are not invited to contribute their thoughts and ideas, it’s all too easy to begin to feel like a non-entity, someone that does not matter.  This can have serious consequences for creativity, innovation and productivity.

Try to:

  • Involve team members in the decision-making process as much as is practical. This does not mean that team members have to start attending lots of meetings and discussion forums; it could be as simple as asking people to email you their thoughts and ideas on the topic up for discussion, or having an ideas sheet on the departmental notice-boards.
  • Encourage team members to work on projects together to lessen feelings of detachment.
  • Have an occasional work night out or an office get-together to allow people to have some experience of each other in a social context.
  • Keep work-life balance in mind at the same time. Some people might not to want to mix work and social life together too often. Also, team morale will not benefit if team members are encouraged to become involved to the extent that their workloads go through the roof.

3. Management Concern

Another important factor that can boost morale when people feel that management is genuinely concerned about them as an individual.  Any manager/organisation that disregards the feelings, aspirations or problems of individual team members, is never going to enjoy the benefits of a truly motivated workforce.

Although it is important to tread carefully when dealing with individual feelings and/or problems, people often appreciate help, even if this is just a simple show of understanding.

Try to:

  • Always consider and treat team members as individuals. Find out what interests them, both at work and in their personal lives, what their expectations are for the job and how they gain satisfaction from the work they do.
  • Ensure each individual is stretched and challenged in a way that promotes their growth and development. Set targets for your team members. These need to be both achievable and challenging, and are most effective when tailored specifically to each individual in a way that ensures they are stretched a little further each time. It’s a bit of a balancing act, though. Go too far and you’ll just create stress, leading to unhappy team members and lower productivity.
  • Encourage them to share personal problems if you suspect there are issues affecting them. Remember, very few people can leave their personal lives at home as soon as they enter the workplace. If things aren’t working in their personal lives, they’re unlikely to perform at their best.
  • Offer on-the-job coaching and training whenever possible.
  • Actively demonstrate concern for health and safety.
  • Let team members know that they are welcome to express to you any misgivings they may have about their workloads, the way the team is working together, the general state of things around the workplace, etc., and that you will address these concerns.
  • Be alert to the mood of the team and how team relationships might influence this.
  • Ensure the working environment is comfortable, pleasant, and conducive to effective working. This means checking the temperature, the space team members have to work in, noise levels around the workplace and general levels of cleanliness, décor, etc.
  • Ensure that the room is brightly lit with plenty of natural sunlight. A lack of light can cause fatigue and can have a negative effect on team members’ moods. On the other hand, bright, natural light can boost energy levels, motivation and concentration. If this is not possible, place table and floor lamps around the room, as they give a much warmer and more natural light than strip lights.

4. Management Loyality

Of all the things a team leader needs and expects, loyalty is the most important. It is difficult to motivate people and lead them anywhere, if they are not loyal.  At the same time, it is vital that a leader or manager is loyal to all those he/she is leading. True loyalty is one of the best ways of ensuring morale is high.

Try to:

  • Put the welfare of team members first.
  • Avoid down-sizing and lay-offs as much as in your power to do so.
  • Offer support to team members when they are dealing with difficult customers, suppliers or clients.
  • Understand that people do make honest mistakes and be supportive when this happens.
  • Be true to your word – if you have said something to a team member, stick to it, and if unforeseen problems have occurred which mean you cannot do what you originally said, don’t just keep this information to yourself, inform the individual immediately of the situation.

5. Respect

As well as being appreciated and involved, individuals need to know that they are respected.

Try to:

  • Recognise the contribution made by each individual person as well as the contribution made by different working groups as a whole.
  • Trust people to cope with difficult pieces of work, but always be on hand to offer support if they need it.
  • Court individual opinions on pieces of work and genuinely consider what is said – don’t immediately dismiss the advice just because an individual is young or lacks experience or seems to be a bit old-fashioned and conservative in their opinions.
  • Consider the skills that each individual has. It may be that a team member has experience that you don’t know about, which could be really useful to a particular project or assignment. Find out what past experiences team members have had and the range of skills they possess. Once you have uncovered this information, try to assign pieces of work to their particular strengths.

6. Communication

Communication is the overall essential weapon for fighting flagging morale.  Lack of communication, whether at the workplace or at home, is perhaps the main reason for deterioration in relationships and a slump in energy, motivation and morale. Communication is essential for keeping people informed of what is going on around them, preparing them for change, instructing them as to their responsibilities, making them aware of what is expected of them and letting them know they are appreciated.

Failure to communicate means a failure to do any of the above.   A lack of communication causes morale to flag, and effective communication is one of the quickest ways to boost morale.  This does not mean that a manager/leader can rely on a simple pep talk when they eventually notice a slump in the level of enthusiasm or energy.  By this stage, it is really too late and much more drastic action will be required. Instead, you should always be communicating appreciation and respect.

Create an optimum working environment with communication at the core, and you will rarely have to worry about boosting morale.


It’s Your Meeting: Get Tough With It

We like to complain about meetings but they can be the backbone of efficient communication and highly effective.  It is interesting to read snippets about how Apple and Google run their meetings.

The thing is, meetings can be a highly effective and efficient way of doing business. However, ask anyone and they will tell you of their experience of having to attend badly run and useless meetings.  Could you be as direct as Steve Jobs is reported to have been and ask in the middle of a meeting, " If you have nothing to contribute, just leave and get on with your work..."?

Research on meetings in organisations, large and small, has produced a series of valuable rules to consider. Here are three that seem to be universal:

  • All meetings must have a stated purpose or agenda. Without an agenda, meetings can easily turn into aimless social gatherings rather than productive working sessions.
  • Attendees should walk away with concrete next steps or Action Items. From Apple to the Toastmasters, the world’s most successful organisations demand that attendees leave meetings with actionable tasks.
  • The meeting should have an end time. Constraints breed creativity. By not placing an endtime, we encourage rambling, off-topic and useless conversation.

Of course, there’s no need to stop there. Truly productive organisations always continue tweaking to suit their specific culture. Here are a few highlights:


During the Steve Jobs era, Apple constantly worked to stay true to its startup roots while becoming the largest company in the world.

  • Every project component or task has a “DRI.” According to Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, Apple breeds accountability at meetings by having a Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) whose name appears next to all of the agenda items they are responsible for.  With every task tagged, there’s rarely any confusion about who should be getting what done.
  • Be prepared to challenge and be challenged. There are dozens of tales about Jobs’ ability to aggresively question his employees, sometimes moving them to tears.  While you probably don’t need the waterworks at your office, everyone should be willing to defend their ideas and work from honest criticism. If a person has no ideas to defend, they shouldn’t be at the meeting.


Catalyst, a group of young Christian leaders places an emphasis on keeping meetings positive and loose. Some examples:

  • The answer is always “yes, and…” and never “no, but…” Keep things positive and ideas flowing by not shouting down initial proposals.
  • Take a break every 30 minutes. If your meeting must last longer than a half hour, make sure attendees can get up, walk out of the room and put their brain on pause.
  • Think and dream with out limitations. Those come later.


In a recent issue of “Think With Google,” Google VP of Business Operations Kristen Gil described how the company spent time getting back to its original values as a startup, which included reconsidering how the company approached meetings. Some takeaways:

  • All meetings should have a clear decision maker. Gil credits this approach to helping the Google+ team ship over 100 new features in the 90 days after launch.
  • No more than ten people at a meeting. “Attending meetings isn’t a badge of honor,” she writes.
  • Decisions should never wait for a meeting. Otherwise, the velocity of the company is slowed to its meeting schedule. If a meeting needs to happen for something to get done, hold the meeting as soon as possible.
  • Be prepared to kill ideas, and meetings. After Larry Page replaced Eric Schmidt as Google CEO, the company quickly killed its Buzz, Code Search, and Desktop products so it could focus more resources on less effort. Focus has to permeate every aspect of a company, including meetings.


If it were up to 37 Signals, there would be no meetings at all and discussion would be limited to IM and email.  In the company’s best-selling book Rework, they urge creatives to remember that “every minute you avoid spending in a meeting is a minute you can get real work done instead.”  In fact, the firm even created National Boycott a Meeting Day in 2011. But if you absolutely must meet, they have three rules:

  • Keep it short. No, shorter than that. And use a timer to enforce the time limit.
  • Have an agenda.
  • Invite as few people as possible.


This New Orleans-based food and beverage company was profiled in the book Good Boss, Bad Boss by Robert Sutton. The company utilizes “stand up” meetings made popular for the Agile method of software development.

  • Schedule the meetings for the same time. Keeping employees in a rhythm allows them to not have their work unexpectedly disrupted.
  • The stand up is to communicate, not solve. If your team has a regularly planned stand up meeting, “lack of communication” is no longer an excuse for problems. Just be sure to protect the stand up meeting time by deferring larger discussions to private meetings.

BTW: If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty of the stand up meeting, Jason Yip wrote an entire manual.

Technically Media

At Technically Media they work hard to make meetings as useful as possible. The senior team meets only once a week to update one another on progress, propose new ideas and hammer out any problems.  They keep to an extremely strict timetable and meeting structure.  Some key observations:

  • There is no judging in brainstorming.  Focus on capturing ideas before filtering and critiquing them.
  • Bring solutions, not problems. Solutioning in the middle of a meeting wastes precious communication time.  If you can’t bring proposed solutions to the table, save it for next time or bring it up in private conversations.
  • Review “homework” from the last meeting.  Not only does it remind participants what happened last week, it holds attendees accountable.


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On Leadership

Manning and Curtis (2005)
“Leadership is social influence.  It means leaving a mark.  It is initiating and guiding and the result is change.”

Useful Links

Leadership and Management Network
This website aims to help you achieve your business goals through building Management and Leadership capabilities.

John Adair Leadership & Management
Official website of Professor John Adair.


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