“You may use lots of different styles and approaches when you are leading people, but it’s still you, your character and your personality. You are simply adopting the appropriate behaviours for the particular moment.”
Alock Tyler (2006, p27)
Leadership and management are words that can seem synonymous at first glance, quite different on reflection and as slippery as soap when trying to define. The word leadership is derived from Old English, and has its origin in the sense of pathfinding or taking followers on a journey; management derives from manus, Latin for hand and indicates the control of a machine, or engine. Seen in this light, Leadership stands rather heroically, like the Saxon Beowulf, with management as the classical Roman governor practising the political art of control. But while that may help to clarify a difference, it does not explain how and where they interact. In the course of the last century in particular, the study of leadership and management has led to the formulation of multiple theories, each with a different focus; where some highlight a transformational approach that sees the job of leader as being to create new leaders, others might emphasise the situational approach where leadership/management is seen as the function of the relationship between the designated leader, the followers or staff, and the situation.
An area I want to explore in some detail is the use of emotional intelligence (EI) in leading and managing. This is partly based on my instinct that this is an area of strength for me, but also because it is my experience that it is not a very well developed skill in current management practice. In The New Leaders, Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee describe six styles of leading, each affecting the emotions of the target followers. The interesting point here is that these are styles, not types, so that any leader can use any style; indeed can tailor the approach to the situation. It is an adaptation that relies on the use of emotional intelligence, which the authors say is
“The fundamental task of leaders ... to prime good feeling in those they lead. That occurs when a leader creates resonance – a reservoir of positivity that frees the best in people. At its best then , the primal job of leadership is emotional.” (Goleman et al, 2002 pVIII)
The authors go on to say that “for too long managers have seen emotions at work as noise cluttering the rational operation of organisations”.
The chief premise of the emotional intelligence approach is that success in leading and managing requires the awareness, control and management of one's own emotions, and those of other people.
Emotional Intelligence has connections to many other branches of emotional, behavioural and communications theories like Transactional Analysis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and empathy. What the approach suggests is that by developing our emotional intelligence we can become more productive and successful at what we do, and help others to be more productive and successful too. There is a firm basis in scientific studies that show that our actions have pronounced physiological effects on other people’s feelings, and vice versa, through the workings of the human limbic system:
“The open loop design of the limbic system means that other people can change our very physiology – and so our emotions.” (Goleman et al 2002, p8)
At the heart of the development of the EI approach to management is the acknowledgement that reducing stress for individuals and organizations and decreasing conflict will lead to improved relationships and understanding, and increase stability, continuity and harmony; a move from dissonance to resonance.
When I consider my own working experience within the broad field of social provision, I am aware that the development of emotional intelligence among the leadership in...