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The Ten Challenges of Introducing Emotionally Intelligent Leadership into organisations

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Let’s not pretend that, just because professionals recognise the need for emotionally-intelligent leadership in organisations, the job is done.

It’s one thing to understand the theory, to familiarise ourselves with the solutions.

It’s quite another to build an organisation with an emotionally-intelligent leadership culture.  This means that people need to apply their emotional intelligence skills regularly and consistently.

Reading Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Focus’ last week, I was struck by the unspoken challenges of introducing emotional intelligence competencies into organisations.

To me, the paradox is that in the powerful combination of neuroscience research and the skills of emotionFocus, by Daniel Golemanal intelligence, we have some solutions that can take us a very long way in improving our workplaces.

Not only so those workplaces can be more successful, but so that they’re better places to work too.

Focus isn’t an easy read, so I tooled up with sticky notes and a pen to jot down some key points systematically.

As I worked through the book, it gave me a powerful understanding of why it is that people acknowledge ‘emotional intelligence’ as an important topic, but don’t succeed in building it as an organisation-wide competence.

Over the next ten working days, I’ll be blogging about what I see as the 10 key challenges to developing emotionally-intelligent leadership within organisations.  With some ideas for practical solutions too.

Please do join in the debate by adding your thoughts and solutions, below.

If you want to see an overview of this blog series – check out this slideshare presentation

Just because it’s a challenge, doesn’t mean that it’s not necessary – and worthwhile.

My goal is to bring the skills of emotionally-intelligent leadership to the world – and wherever you are, I invite you to join me.

With sincere best wishes for 2014,

Helen Caton Hughes

PS – a quick word about the word ‘challenge’.  I see challenges as ‘calls to adventure’ which can be fun, as well as stretching.  So I’m actively looking forward to the challenges that 2014 will bring – and I hope you are too.

Challenge #1: Organisations are complex systems

Every organisation is a complex system.  Where the physical and visible structures are may be clear, but how people fit in may be less so.

Yet it’s the network of people that makes – and changes – the system.

Understanding this means that it’s important to build emotional competence system-wide.  When people feel connected to others, they feel (and are), more influential.

A connected endeavour not only feels better, it gives people the genuine ability to make cultural change across the organisation.


Einstein reckoned that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I like the Ken Wilbur way of looking at complex systems – because if we’re going to navigate complexity, we need to have a simple way of finding our way around.Ken Wilbur's whole systems matrix  In our leadership model, this is part of the ‘Field’ or the complex world of our clients.

Goleman argues that we need to focus on our inner self, on others, and on the whole system.  This means tapping into our own emotional resources, appreciating the feelings of others (empathy) and being aware of the shared emotional tone in situations.

This is one of the tools we teach people how to apply – regularly and consistently – in our ‘Ignite’ programme, so I’m delighted to hear that Goleman sees it as a key skill.


Author: Helen Caton Hughes

Leadership and Team Coach based on inspirational and practical tools. Works with leaders around the world; trains coaches to International Coach Federation standards. Passionate about finding best ways for leaders to inspire themselves and get the best from their teams

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