“What Makes a Leader” by Daniel Goleman is an interesting and educating article. In this article, Goleman wants the reader to understand the most important thing that defines a good leader. Most of us think that for one to be a good leader, he should be charismatic, possess technical proficiency and intellectual capacities. However, these qualities are far from making one a good leader. According to Daniel Goleman, what makes a good leader is emotional intelligence (02). For one to be a competent leader, he has to be emotionally intelligent so that he can be able to handle situations when they arise in the organization.
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However, emotional intelligence comprises five components which are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. I think that all these five components have to be present for one to be a good leader. For instance, self-awareness is a component that helps a leader to understand his feelings, emotions and the effects they have upon others. As a leader, one has to understand his feelings and emotions to ensure that they do not interfere with his duties. This is because many people are looking up to him, and a slight mistake can lead to severe consequences. A leader should always understand how his reactions can affect the people he is leading to ensure that he avoids saying and doing things that will affect them negatively. Applying the self-awareness component will make one a good leader that will be liked by many.
Self-regulation is another component of emotional intelligence that makes one a good leader. According to Goleman, self-awareness frees us from being prisoners of our feelings (05). Leaders are humans and they have feelings too which can interfere with the way they perform their duties. For example, a leader can have a family issue that interferes with his moods. If he performs his leadership duties while in a bad mood, he is more likely to cause problems. His followers can feel like he is mistreating them since they will not know that he has family issues disturbing his moods. For instance, if a manager comes to work and starts working without controlling his impulses and moods, he is more likely to demoralize employees below him. This will affect the performance of the employees, and in the long run, it will negatively impact the achievement of goals. Self-awareness makes leaders perfect in their duties since it helps them to control and handle their moods and impulses.
Another component of emotional intelligence that makes one a good leader is motivation. According to Goleman, a good leader is the one that is not motivated by monetary and non-monetary rewards, but he is the one who is motivated by what he is likely to achieve (06). A good leader should not expect to be awarded for him to perform his duties properly. He was appointed to be a leader because the people or organization thought that he is competent. To show his competency, he should not push to be rewarded for him to perform. Monetary and non-monetary rewards are not bad, but a leader must not rely on them as his motivation. He should be motivated by the set goals, and what he can do to achieve them. If a leader performs his duties intending to achieve particular goals, he is more likely to be motivated even though there are no rewards. Rewards can come later after the goals have been achieved.
Empathy is the fourth component of emotional intelligence that makes a good leader. Coleman states that a good leader should take into consideration the feelings of all employees before he makes a final decision (07). Some leaders make decisions without considering their effects on employees. This is a mistake that needs to be avoided if one wants to be a good leader who many will wish to imitate. However, applying empathy does not mean to please every employee in the organization since that will negatively impact performance. It means having the ability to understand and share the feelings of all employees. In most cases, employees come to work stressed because of a particular situation in their lives. At a time like this, it is the responsibility of the leader to identify such employees and talk to them. This will help the leader to understand what the employee is going through and encourage him to come over it so that he can focus on his duties. If a leader does not apply empathy in his duties, he can harass employees without considering what they might be going through, and this will affect the company’s performance.
The last component of emotional intelligence that makes a good leader is social skills. According to Goleman, a leader should possess the ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships within and outside the organization (09). For example, healthy relationships are the ones that lead to teamwork in the organization. They ensure that the leader gains the trust of employees and this leads to increased teamwork. A leader with excellent social skills will lead as an example, and his followers can learn from him on how they are supposed to interact with each other. An individual that lacks social skills cannot manage to become a good leader since he will bring divisions in the organization. The application of social skills as a leader makes employees feel like they are being led by a qualified and competent individual. They will not go against him since they like how he leads them. Also, a leader needs social skills so that he can build functional networks that can benefit the organization.
In conclusion, Daniel Goleman’s article, “What Makes a Leader” contains valuable information that can help leaders and those who aspire to be leaders. This is because it discusses the various components required for one to become a good leader. It also helps people to understand that technical proficiency, intellectual capacities, and being charismatic is not good enough to make one a leader. With the help of this article, one can understand that emotional intelligence is the most important thing that is required for him to be a leader. All the five components of emotional intelligence are also discussed in detail to help one understand how to apply them.
- Goleman, Daniel. What Makes a Leader? (Harvard Business Review Classics). Harvard Business Press, 2017.