Cold, Hard and Unsustainable Leadership

Daniel Goleman (@DanielGolemanEI) tweeted last week, “When leadership is devoid of empathy and emotional intelligence, the result is not efficiency, it is a cold, harsh, unsustainable power.” Hard to say it better.

But what does it mean? My interpretation focuses on a couple (okay three) of his words: empathy, emotional intelligence, and unsustainable.

We’ve known lots of leaders with empathy who struggle to convey that empathy to the people they lead. It’s not that they lack empathy as much as it is difficulty expressing the empathy they feel. That’s where emotional intelligence plays a role. Knowing how and when to communicate empathy is an attribute of emotional intelligence. Our advice to leaders who feel empathy but keep it to themselves is to risk showing others your concern and compassion without fearing doing so will erode your power. That fear is misplaced and you are more likely to see your influence increase as you express your empathy.

The word sustainable deserves special attention because we’ve known many leaders who are effective while being cold and harsh when leading. Indeed, they may have distinguished themselves and be held in high esteem for their “no-nonsense, bottom-line, take no prisoners” leadership. The trouble is this type of leadership is more often than not unsustainable over time. Follower’s resentment of being treated coldly and harshly builds. All but the most hardened followers, leave for other opportunities. While being cold and harsh may work in the military (think drill sergeant), in the business world, people have options, particularly top-performers (the kind you want to keep).

So, we’re back to the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence when leading over the long-haul. Daniel Goleman has studied leadership extensively. Can you benefit from his study and do a better job sharing your empathy with those you lead?

The quotes:

“Sing a little Kumbaya: While love and leadership are certainly two words you don’t often hear in the same sentence, I can assure you that rarely does great leadership exist without love being present and practiced. In fact, if you examine failed leaders as a class, you’ll find that a lack of love, misplaced love, or misguided love were [sic] a contributing cause of said failures, if not the root cause. Empathy, humility and kindness are signs of leadership strength – not weakness.” ~ Mike Myatt

“Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” ~ General George Patton

Mike Myatt (10/18/2012) from: sites/mikemyatt/2012/10/18/15- ways-to-identify-bad-leaders/ 2/#5296c74f737c

George Patton (unknown) from: http://seapointcenter. com/worst-popular-leadership- quotes/

As always, let us know if you have questions…