In just the last several weeks I have had a few conversations with leaders I coach about team members who seem to be struggling in the leadership of their respective teams.

I hear comments like:

  • He/She  just seems unable to work well with others
  • He/She lacks relational skills to lead effectively
  • He/She is not relationally sensitive enough to work through others
  • He/She doesn’t truly seem to understand the people they lead
  • He/She too easily becomes emotionally upset with team members and lacks self-control

In one specific conversation, the main leader said the person in question simply doesn’t possess EQ!

This is what got me thinking again about the indispensable quality of EQ in being a good leader.

If you’ve been in leadership for any length of time, you recognize the term EQ. 

See this post for more on what EQ is and why it’s important.

How Smart Are You?

When I conduct my “Leaders Who Last” seminars, I say that there are two aspects to being a good leader:

1. Getting it done-Task oriented

2. Getting along-People oriented

I then ask the seminar participants if they generally think of themselves as being more task or people in their leadership orientation. Over the ten years I’ve been doing these seminars, the “Task Oriented” slightly outweighs the “People Oriented” leaders. I then say which ever one you tend to be, we all need to move toward the middle and be good at both.

The age old question of Nature or Nurture can be asked. Are people, by creation, more task than people oriented? Is it simply in their genes, or can it be learned?  Is their current orientation a matter of what happened since birth—family of origin, people they hung out with, their experiences, their education, etc? 

Can we change, or are we dealt a hand we just need to play and stop wishing we were different or were somebody else? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. 

Here is where I’m at in my current thinking after 63 years as a Jesus-follower and 54 years in Christian ministry:

I think we tend to lean one way or the other, and need to learn how to strike a good balance. Having an essential amount of both EQ and IQ is part of maturity as a leader. 

I’m definitely more task oriented—I know it and so does my family and those with whom I work. I’m trust Jesus daily to continue to mold and shape me into a person with higher EQ. I believe I can, and have changed. I will never be a 10 in EQ but I can move forward. I’m not what I wanna be, and not what I’m gonna be, but at least I’m not what I was. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that IQ is very important in starting in a leadership role—having the skill-set(s) and mindset to accomplish things with joy, excellence and timeliness. But as one gets more responsibility, the EQ really needs to kicks in and can either help (if present), or hinder (if missing), in working through others. The more responsibility I have and the more people there are who look to me for leadership, the more important having solid EQ becomes. 

Here’s the last thing I believe I’ve learned. More leaders plateau or get removed over a lack of EQ than a lack of IQ. Another way of saying this is that the lack of character is a bigger problem than the lack of competence. Character, for the Christian leader, is mostly lived out in the context of healthy relationships—EQ!