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What Makes a Leader

What Makes a Leader

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Published by Sandip Timsina
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review

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Published by: Sandip Timsina on Feb 28, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sandip Timsina (09525)
 The article ‘What makes a leader?” written by Daniel Goleman advocates emotionalintelligence which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy,and social skill distinguishes leaders from others. He argues that the qualitiestraditionally associated with leadership such as intelligence, toughness, technicalskills are relevant only in the capacity of entry-level requirements. His suggestionsare backed by his extensive research and other studies and empirical evidences.His research focused on which personal capabilities drop outstanding performancein organization. He says when he calculated the ratio of technical skills, IQ andemotional intelligence as ingredients of excellent performance; emotionalintelligence proved to be twice as important as the others for jobs at all levels. Inthe article he discusses how the individual determinants of the emotionalintelligence play a crucial role on leadership and strong performance.
 The main issue of the article is the role of emotional intelligence in distinguishing aleader from ordinary people. The article proposes how emotional intelligence is themost important determinant of leadership Daniel Goleman meticulously dissectsindividual elements of emotional intelligence giving examples of situations whereanyone ordinary and a leader works.
 The determinants of leadership have been a highly debated subject. Majority of researchers, experts believe that the qualities of leader include intelligence, visions,technical know how. There was a kind of consensus on these qualities until DanielGoleman determined to challenge it with the evidences of his research findings. The pre-requisites such as intelligence, vision cannot be ruled out but real-lifeexamples of a executive with mediocre IQ and technical skills have becomesuccessful leaders are abundant. At the same time people with high IQ andtechnical skills have failed miserably in leadership position. This leads us to doubtthe consideration of IQ, technical skills as the major pre-requisite of the leadership.An individual with the caliber of a leader has a clear understanding of his/herstrengths, weakness, needs and drives. They know their potential and are prettyclear on how to do things and what they can and to what extent. Thus they are self-aware and hence are hones \t with themselves and with others. Goleman points thatthese people are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. It gives them theunderstanding of their potential performance in a given job. Those with little no self-awareness usually take decisions hastily. Self-aware candidates are also frank evenwhen they are to disclose their weaknesses and accept their failure. Inorganizations the people who accept and confess their failures, weaknesses areoften tagged as being weak and “not tough enough”.On the other hand, there is a discipline self-exercised by all individuals and theseself-regulatory disciplines guide their reaction. They strictly adhere to their self-discipline, some are lenient while others are self-regulatory framework itself is weakto make their behavior and reactions conscientious. In a given situation which isadverse, some people will panic, involve in blame-game and backlash their sub-ordinate while others are careful, controlled picking right words and body languagethat is not intimidating yet highly expressive. A self-regulated boss commands self-regulated sub-ordinates making the work environment highly productive and alsodiluting rivalry, commands commitment and responsible behavior. These qualities
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Article Critiquing: What Makes a leader?
Sandip Timsina (09525)and influence may not be expected of all individuals with high IQ, technical skillsand vision. A person with the qualities of leadership understands that his goalscannot be achieved alone by himself, he knows the importance of his team andwould rather inspire than indulge in blame-games. Goleman argues that self-regulation enhances integrity giving no room for unethical conducts. The other difference maker between a leader and an ordinary individual is themotivation. Individuals have different drives for working; some associate theirachievement to money, some with power and some for recognition. Golemansuggests that people with leadership potential are motivated by a deeply embeddeddesire to achieve for the sake of achievement. These people have little value forexternal rewards and they strive for excellence, they have a passion for their workand they do not associate it with external outcomes but to a deep rooted personalneed and take satisfaction in that. They take work as a passion and theirperformance bar is always rising. These people are optimistic, learn from theirmistakes rather than getting discouraged and are always improvising. They haveinternal locus of control and failure polishes them further and they are always readyto put in more efforts to succeed.Leaders are always aware of the impact of their decisions, statements upon otherand they plan accordingly. Whether its their choice of words, body language andstructure of statements they are considerate and selfless. They are more aware of others feeling, they believe in being just and in balance. They do not makedecisions on a whim but thoughtfully consider others feelings and they makeintelligent decisions. Their statements are not harsh, cold and piercing but ratheremotional, convincing and considerate. They thus boost the morale of their teamdue to which their sub-ordinates are highly committed. They listen to all competingview points so that none of the others feel ignored or marginalized and are alwaystrying to reach consensus. They encourage people to bring what they feel. Hencethey retain people and win their confidence.People with leadership potential are adept at managing relationship with others. They are liked by their peers, their seniors appreciate them while their sub-ordinates look up to them. They are helpful and inspire and energize others.However their nature of being friendly is not for no reason, they befriend people,take others into confidence so that they can motivate these people to move in thedirection they want. This want however is not selfish; it is not for their personalachievement but for what they think is right and what they think is best. The peopleof all age group, backgrounds, and culture find them jolly and enjoy their company. They always have something common with all people. This capacity lies in theirability to manage their own emotions backed by their confidence in what theybelieve. They are viewed as great team player, highly supportive executive andinnovative subordinates. They are people with great capacity to persuade others. They literally are like magnets to which other people come pulled but they come bychoice not by coercion.Emotional intelligence can be learned, it can be learned/developed by trainings,mentoring, feedback mechanisms, peers evaluation and by fostering competitiveenvironment. 
Goleman’s emphasis on emotional intelligence as the major determinant of leadership ability in an individual certainly has valid reasons. He however misses inhis article if emotional intelligence is sufficient enough as a leadership potential.
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Article Critiquing: What Makes a leader?

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