Hbr- What Makes a Leader

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IQ and technical skills are
important, but emotional
intelligence is the sine qua
non of leadership.


H BR 1998

What Makes a Leader?
by Daniel Goleman

Reprint R0401H

IQ and technical skills are important, but emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.


What Makes a Leader?
by Daniel Goleman


It was Daniel Goleman who first brought the
term “emotional intelligence” to a wide audience
with his 1995 book of that name, and it was Goleman who first applied the concept to business with his 1998 HBR article, reprinted here. In his research
at nearly 200 large, global companies, Goleman
found that while the qualities traditionally associated with leadership—such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision—are required for success, they are insufficient. Truly effective leaders

are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional
intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. These qualities may sound “soft” and unbusinesslike, but Goleman found direct ties between emotional intelligence and measurable business results. While emotional intelligence’s relevance to business has continued to spark debate over the

past six years, Goleman’s article remains the definitive reference on the subject, with a description of each component of emotional intelligence and a detailed discussion of how to recognize it in potential leaders, how and why it connects to performance,

and how it can be learned.

harvard business review • january 2004

Every businessperson knows a story about a
highly intelligent, highly skilled executive
who was promoted into a leadership position
only to fail at the job. And they also know a
story about someone with solid—but not extraordinary—intellectual abilities and technical skills who was promoted into a similar position and then soared. Such anecdotes support the widespread belief that identifying individuals with the “right stuff” to be leaders is more art than science.

After all, the personal styles of superb leaders
vary: Some leaders are subdued and analytical;
others shout their manifestos from the mountaintops. And just as important, different situations call for different types of leadership. Most mergers need a sensitive negotiator at
the helm, whereas many turnarounds require
a more forceful authority.
I have found, however, that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be
known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ
and technical skills are irrelevant. They do

page 1

W hat Makes a Leader? • B E ST O F H BR 1998

matter, but mainly as “threshold capabilities”;
that is, they are the entry-level requirements
for executive positions. But my research, along
with other recent studies, clearly shows that
emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of
leadership. Without it, a person can have the
best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.
In the course of the past year, my colleagues
and I have focused on how emotional intelligence operates at work. We have examined the relationship between emotional intelligence and effective performance, especially in leaders. And we have observed how emotional

intelligence shows itself on the job. How can
you tell if someone has high emotional intelligence, for example, and how can you recognize it in yourself? In the following pages, we’ll explore these questions, taking each of the
components of emotional intelligence—selfawareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill—in turn.

Evaluating Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman is the author of Emotional Intelligence (Bantam, 1995) and a coauthor of Primal Leadership:...
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