Later theories recognized leadership as a reciprocal interaction between leaders and followers with the hallmark of good leadership being transformation of the followers who are committed to the leader’s vision (Bass & Avolio, 1994). The application of neuropsychological and neurocognitive research to the field of leadership has supplemented the wealth of information from the sociopsychological fields. Most recently, leadership is conceptualized as a set of learnable attitudes, behaviors, and skills geared toward relationship building. The effect on others is an awakening of self-efficacy, confidence, and capability, which enables proactive, engaged collective action toward a common goal (Goleman et al, 2002).
Decades of neuropsychological research have established that emotions can dictate our thinking, motivate us, and mobilize us into action. It is generally accepted that thoughts can induce emotions, and emotions also generate thoughts. For instance, when an individual is upset about something (emotion), he or she may engage in self-talk or internal dialogue (thoughts), which may fuel a spiral of intense emotions and upsetting thoughts.
The thoughts and emotions that shape human behavior originate from separate centers of the brain and are interactive determinants of one another. The amygdala or the feeling mind is a primitive part of the brain that triggers a fight-or-flight response, which is tempered by the prefrontal cortex or thinking mind. When stress, drugs, or alcohol compromises the nervous system, the tempering function of the prefrontal cortex may fail to block the instructions from the amygdala, and behavior that is not rational or adaptive to the situation may result.
Effective leaders are not as susceptible to this “amygdala highjack” as other leaders are. They are tuned in to their emotional skills and are able to use them in an appropriate way and in the proper context (Goleman et al, 2002). Daniel Goleman found that outstanding leaders were judged by their superiors as performing significantly better on a constellation of personal skills and social skills that fell into the following four broad categories: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. This constellation of behaviors has been termed emotional intelligence (see Table 4-1 ) and is a prerequisite for relationship building that is the bedrock of sustainable leadership practices (Goleman, 1995). Developing competency in relationship management is contingent upon competency in self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness and essential for success in life and/or workplace.
In most healthcare organizations, leaders and managers are often appointed based on expertise and years of experience. However, as supervisory responsibility increases, so does the need for people-handling skills. Research indicates that some leaders and managers who are appointed primarily because of technical skill may lack the necessary emotional and relational competencies that enable them to lead and/or manage effectively (Goleman et al., 2002). They also need personal and social skills, which are the bases for emotional intelligence and are essential for effective leadership. In a team environment, skills such as effective listening, adaptability, empathy, collaboration, and the ability to give and use feedback are requisite for not only the designated leader, but for all members of the team. When members of a team are emotionally intelligent, they can create a collaborative atmosphere that leverages the inherent skills and power of the whole group (Goleman et al, 2002).