Building Leaders' Emotional IntelligenceOne of the readings a colleague and I used for a recent training program that included a large element of learning about how to discuss problems with clients, was Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee (GBM).1
In this post, I'd like to call attention to a section of the book dealing with sustainable learning. Longitudinal research Boyatzis and others have conducted for the better part of two decades indicates that a person who targets particular emotional intelligence competencies to strengthen can achieve clear improvement that, in large measure, lasts indefinitely. As GBM explain,
In contrast to the honeymoon effect of most leadership development programs, the gains lasted years for these MBA students [the participants in the research]. Up to two years after going through the change process, they still showed 47 percent improvement on self-awareness competencies such as self-confidence, and on self-management competencies such as adaptability and the drive to achieve. When it came to social awareness and relationship management skills, improvements were even greater: 75 percent for competencies such as empathy and team leadership. (p. 105)Furthermore,
Five to seven years after the original [competency-based MBA] course, people were showing improvements on additional competencies, not just those on which they'd already improved after three to five years. In other words, once they'd learned how to improve the emotional intelligence abilities that make leaders great, they continued developing new strengths on their own. That finding provides solid evidence that these competencies can continue to be acquired throughout life. (pp. 106-107)The moral of the story: "...leaders can be made more effective if they are offered the right tools for learning" and if they adopt a conscious plan to improve specific aspects of themselves that they want to change.
1 Published by Harvard Business School Press in 2002. The paperback edition came out in 2004.