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What Makes a Leader Essay

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Updated: Jan 12th, 2020


Apart from, toughness, vision, determination and intelligence, Goleman identified another qualities associated with leadership. Social skill, empathy, self regulation, motivation and self awareness are the qualities to consider in determining high degree of emotional intelligence (Harvard business review on what makes a leader, 2001).

Many businesses have failed because of poor leadership determined by the level of intelligence and skills the reason why Goleman insists that leadership is more than art and science. It is therefore the high degree of emotional intelligence that makes a leader effective.

Emotional intelligence is the sine qua none of leadership,- meaning, one can gain better training from all aspects but that will not make them effective leaders. In relation to performance, emotional intelligence can still be identified in paces of work. Golman explores all the components such as empathy, social skill, self regulation, empathy, self awareness and emotional intelligence (Evans, Lindsay and Evans, 2008).

Evaluating emotional intelligence

In order to evaluate emotional intelligence, most companies employ well trained psychologist who develop competency models that assist in training and identifying the leaders to promote. The same happens to the lower level staff. In his quest to determine the personalities that drive performances in organizations, Goleman analyzed 188 models used by large and global companies.

Goleman combined technical abilities including forecasting and accounting into one. Cognitive attributes together with competencies which indicated emotional intelligence were also categorized separately.

The competency model used by companies focuses on the competency of leaders and division’s profit. This information is inquired from the manager after which the individuals’ are tested and their capabilities are compared. Golman’s findings indicate that, in comparing the ratio of emotional intelligence, IQ and technical skills, he found out that emotional intelligence is more important for performances at all levels (Robbins, 2009).


As a component of emotional awareness, self-awareness involves understanding people’s drives, needs, weakness, emotions and strength. It also helps one realize the effect of his feeling to the people, their job performance and to oneself. People with high self awareness can work under tight schedule and still do a good job. They can handle a demanding client because they understand how they feel. Self-awareness also builds ones morality especially when one is tempted by a good deal that is not in line with his principles.


Self-regulation involves controlling the biological impulses that drive emotions and managing ones moods. Goleman gives an example of an employee who gives a presentation of a botched board of directors. The executive may lose their tempers and do something stupid but self-regulation takes a different approach. He would first take time to know the cause of the failure and his role in finding solutions. Self-regulation creates an environment of equality and trust where production takes the center stage and not politics.

Companies can consider it as strength because people who have self-regulation do not easily break apart. They adapt to changes easily and are ready to take leadership roles. David Goleman lays emphasis on the role self-regulation plays in enhancing integrity which acts as strength to the organization and as a result guard against impulsive behavior to the organization. It is easy to see emotional self-regulation.


Motivation drives effective leaders towards achievements beyond expectations. Big salaries and status symbol of a prestigious company motivate few individuals but effective leaders are motivated by desire to meet their goals and for the sake of their goals.

They also seem restless and eager to make advancements. They set standards and raise performance bar (Harvard business review on what makes a leader, 2001). As leaders try to track process of their own trough motivation, market shares and profitability are improved. Self-regulation when tied together with achievement motivation, it guard against depression and frustration that comes as a result of failures.


According to Goleman, we can always recognize the presence and absence of empathy in a sensitive person. In business, people are not rewarded or praised for their empathy. Effective do not have to adopt other people’s emotions to show empathy, it involves having employee’s feelings at heart and other factors to consider in intelligent decision making.

The words a manager speak to acknowledge fear of the employees can show empathy. Empathy increases unity in teamwork improves international business and helps the organization to retain talent (Morse, 2010).

Social skills

Social skills and empathy help to save relationships by creating relationship management mechanisms (Reece, Brandt and Howie, 2010). It is friendliness with a purpose because nothing important can be done in seclusion. For better relationship, emotional control and empathy are important. People, who are motivated to talk a lot about their achievements, socialize more than fuzzy individuals.

People with social skills can combine such attributes and be effective leaders (Manning and Curtis, 2003). At times, they are perceived as lazy individuals who just talk because they are more interested in building relations hoping one day they will need help from the ties they create. Because no leader is an island, this component is considered by organizations unlike the others. It is therefore important that all the components are learned.


Evans, J. R., Lindsay, W. M., & Evans, Jr. (2008). Managing for quality and performance excellence. Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.

Harvard business review on what makes a leader. (2001). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Manning, G., & Curtis, K. (2003). The art of leadership. Boston, Mass: McGraw- Hill/Irwin.

Morse, M. K. (2010). Making room for leadership: Power, space and influence. Sydney, N.S.W.: Read How You Want.

Reece, B. L., Brandt, R., & Howie, K. F. (2010). Effective human relations: Interpersonal and organizational applications. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Robbins, S. P. (2009). Organisational behaviour: Global and Southern African perspectives. Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa.

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