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October 18, 2007

Emotional Intelligence

The discussion of this week's LeaderQuest meeting was focused around emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is defined as an ability to understand and work with the emotions of one's self and others. There are many interesting questions about emotional intelligence in regards to leadership.

  • What is the difference between intelligence as measured by an IQ test and emotional intelligence? Are there any similarities? Are either of them necessary to be a good leader?
  • Is a capacity for emotional intelligence important in our daily lives? In what ways?
  • What are the benefits of being emotionally intelligent in a leadership position?
  • Are there any drawbacks in "utilizing" emotional intelligence when making decisions?
  • How does a discussion about emotional intelligence connect to discussions about values, morals and ethics?
  • What faculties or attributes do you think are necessary to be a good leader? Does emotional intelligence fit into that list? How?
  • Think of several people you know. Who do you perceive as the most emotionally intelligent? What about them leads you to believe this? Who is not as emotionally intelligent? Why?

October 16, 2007

A Deeper Look at Leadership

We began LeaderQuest last Wednesday by building complex structures out of simple household items in teams of four. What was interesting wasn't necessarily just the structures that were created, but the team work that was involved. Each team had to battle each other team to build the best structures in order to win a prize.

There were several important questions that arose from this exercise. The first couple are related to working on projects and decision making in general: A) When are you done? and B) What is "good enough?"

Additionally, we had another discussion of "What is Leadership?" and we asked participants to take sides on whether or not leadership/leaders are: extroverted or introverted, born or made, spiritual or secular, coercive or noncoercive versus only noncoercive, outcomes or process focused, ethical and unethical or only ethical, about powerment or power, and positional or nonpositional. All of these are worth further discussion. It may be especially important to try to research the other side on issues where you identify specifically with one side or the other.

We had an extensive discussion of the difference between indecisiveness and apathy/relativism. On the relativistic or apathetic side, people seemed to believe that those making decisions either refused to make a decision because they saw both sides or are apathetic and just don't seem to care at all. On the indecisive side, people seemed to believe that they wanted to make a decision, but were pulled too strongly in both directions to feel as though they could make a good one. From there, we asked: How do you eventually make a decision? There will be times when making a decision is unavoidable, so at that point, what do you do? Is there a process to make that decision that can be used on a regular basis? Another important question would be: What is the reason for being indecisive? Does this do some sort of psychological work for the indecisive person? Are there times when it is valuable to be indecisive? Times when it is not valuable? What are those times? How do you analyze the risks involved in making one choice or the other?

October 4, 2007

Values and congruence

Values and congruency are a difficult topic to cover. As we discovered during the LeaderQuest meeting, knowing what you value and acting on those values isn't easy to do all the time. Even knowing what it is you truly value is difficult to think about and is often a process that is reevaluated throughout the course of your life.

This discussion also raises some interesting questions. Can you ever really discover what you value by placing words upon it? At some point, doesn't it just become word games? Toward the end of the discussion about values, when people were forced to have only a few values and to choose from those their "top" value, many people spoke about how their "top" value encompassed all of the other ones or, "without this value, none of the other values would matter, so that is why I chose this one."

The Greek philosopher and poet Heraclitus said, "The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become." Is it possible, then, to every really articulate what it is you value in a few words? Or is it a constant cycle of evaluation, a striving toward some greater goal of which we are unaware? It is worthwhile to think of the value of knowing in words the things you value and those that you do not. Does it help you to make decisions and choose your actions?

During part of our discussion, we talked about President George W. Bush. Many people said that they felt he was congruent even if they didn't agree with his actions. Others said he was not congruent because some of his actions have not been congruent to the values we'd expect from the office of the President of the United States. So is Bush incongruent or is it more of a question of whether his values or actions are "right" or "wrong?" When you are in a position of power, what takes precedence, your values or the expected values of the office you hold? Do you surrender your values entirely in a position of power? If so, who decides what your values are. If not, what happens when your values conflict?

Is it possible for your values to be wrong? Who decides whether these are right or wrong? Is it possible for two or more of the things you value to be incongruent with each other? What then? How do you resolve that conflict?

Another good exercise I have seen used in discovering values is asking the question, "What do you want people to say about you when you die?" Although this question sounds morbid, it is often easier to uncover the things that are most important to you (or you wish were most important to you).