Business Leaders Benefit from Emotional Intelligence

There’s a strong connection between the ability to lead and emotional intelligence. 

That’s the conclusion of a new study by Professor Stephane Cote of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, published in Leadership Quarterly. The findings are drawn from two studies of business students who were each given an emotional ability test before completing a group project. When the project was over, participants rated the best leaders. There was a strong correlation between those ranked as good leaders and those who scored high on the emotional ability scale.

“Traditionally, we’ve assumed that leaders have high IQs, are gregarious, and have dominant personalities,” Cote says. But his study indicates that “being able to process other people’s emotions” may be just as important. Aspiring leaders, Cote suggests, would do well to foster the abilities that make up emotional intelligence. According to author Daniel Goleman, who coined the term in his bestseller of the same name, emotional intelligence means the ability to perceive, use, understand, and regulate emotions. The Rotman School of Management teaches emotional intelligence as a fourth-year elective course and in its MBA program. Courses based on EI are offered in many corporate settings. Google started teaching an EI-based course, Search Inside Yourself, at its headquarters in 2007. This year SIY is being offered at Google campuses around the world.