Leadership, one Marshmallow and emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.

This is about Emotional Intelligence as a key factor in ensuring our success as leaders and in making “great people decisions”.

The marshmallow experiment is a test conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University and discussed by Daniel Goleman in “Emotional Intelligence”, his 1996 book. In the 1960s, a group of four-year olds were given a marshmallow and promised another, only if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not.

The researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence, and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait, or to postpone gratification, hence with greater emotional intelligence, had a far happier and more successful existence by many different measures (starting, for example from scoring an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test).

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz is a great colleague and a top global expert on hiring and promotion decisions, repeatedly chosen by Business Week as one of the most influential search consultants in the world.

In a keynote speech at the World Business Forum in New York, Claudio demonstrated the importance of emotional intelligence in making great people decisions.

Inspired by the ‘Marshmallow Experiment’, Claudio presented the results of his own analysis of the three most important characteristics in potential job candidates. While the researchers from Stanford found a correlation between grabbing a marshmallow at the age of four and having behavioural problems in school or drugs problems in later life, Araóz focused on characteristics such as previous work experience, emotional intelligence and IQ.

He discovered that the best predictor of successful hiring was actually strong emotional intelligence. Even more so, lack of emotional intelligence was a very strong predictor of failure.

Awareness of oneself and one’s relationships is more important in being successful than either previous work experience or IQ. Emotional intelligence can help us predict failures in relationships, selecting the right people and in identifying great leaders.

Emotional intelligence is what we need to foster in ourselves and to look for in other people.

Tommaso Arenare

www.twitter.com/tommaso_arenare

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