“What makes a leader?” by Daniel Goleman

This is a summary of the article “What makes a leader?” originally published by HBR June 1996. The article highlights the most important quality of a successful leader based on a study accross multiple large organizations. There are lots of different leadership personalities, a soft spoken calm leader such as Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, or the ones on the other side of the spectrum, with a larger than life personality such as former Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs. However, according to Daniel Goleman in his study, we can identify 3 key characteristics that every great leaders have:

  • Technical skills: mastery of the skills required in the domain such as accounting or project planning.
  • Analytical skills (IQ): cognitive abilities such as analytical reasoning, big picture thinking.
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

According to the reseach done by Daniel Goleman from studying 188 large and global companies, from all 3 skills, a high Emotional Intelligence is the biggest predictor to being a successful leader. It is so important that Goleman stated that having a high EQ is twice more important than having a high IQ and high technical skills. It is worth mentioning that according to Goleman’s study, departments where the leaders have high EQ outperform yearly earning goals compared to other departments by 20%.

Emotional Intelligence consists of 5 different dimensions: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.



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