If you want to be an effective leader, you better be emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence has very little to do with your IQ. According to his article in the Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman says that a person with the best training in the world, an incisive and analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas won’t make a good leader without emotional intelligence.

Goleman studied successful leaders throughout business to understand the amount of technical skills, IQ and emotional intelligence they had as ingredients to excellent performance. He found that the ratio of emotional intelligence proved to be twice as important as the others for top positions in business.

So what is emotional intelligence? It starts with self-awareness, which can be difficult for many people. It is the age-old advice to “know thyself”. Goleman says that it is “having a deep understanding of ones emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest – with themselves and others.”

I recently read an article about Boise State football coach, Chris Petersen. Living in Boise and having attended BSU, I follow his success with admiration and awe. I find it astounding that Coach Pete has built upon the success of his predecessors in such a grand manor that the Broncos are consistently one of the country’s top football teams. Whether you like the Broncos or not, you must admit that what Petersen has done is incredibly impressive.  With an entire football budget that equals just the salary of other top coaches, Petersen has created a juggernaut that inspires love and hate from around the country. Pretty impressive for a team that did not even compete at Division I level 15 years ago.

In the article about Coach Petersen, we can learn a lot about his emotional intelligence:

“His football IQ has been much discussed during the Broncos’ ascension over the past few years, but Petersen’s emotional intelligence — his ability to relate to and connect with others — also seems to be off the charts.

This coach is as good at listening as talking. Maybe better.”

Coach Petersen empowers his people and takes the time to teach them. He teaches leadership and life principles, not just football. He has taken players that larger schools have rejected and turned them into an elite machine. Whether or not the football powers that be will ever find it in themselves to give BSU a shot a national championship is not up to Coach Pete, but under his leadership and cultivation of emotional intelligence there are few teams that would want to face his squad of formerly lovable underdogs.

In my next posts I will discuss looking for emotional intelligence in your people.