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When Managers Fail, It is Usually Due To Poor Emotional Intelligence
by Freda Turner, Ph.D.


An article in Fortune magazine entitled, "Don't Blow Your New Job," reported that 40 percent of new management hires fail within their first 18 months. When investigating these failures, it was found that "failure to build good relationships" or a term coined by Daniel Goleman - "Emotional Intelligence (EQ)" - was the culprit an overwhelming 82 percent of the time.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability of an individual to deal successfully with other people, to manage one's self, motivate others, understand one's own feelings and appropriately respond to the everyday environment. Management scholars have found that individuals with high EQ are better at creating positive outcomes.

The following examples illustrate how EQ can positively or negatively impact one's career and the organization:

Upon graduating from college, Debra believed that if she worked hard, she would achieve her career success goals. She racked up a list of accomplishments, however, just two years into her career she was fired. Debra Benton reports in her book, Lions Don't Need to Roar, "I was stunned ... college courses had not addressed the importance of people skills or being a team player. That lack of knowledge cost me my job." She thought work was all about producing results. While working with an outplacement firm, Debra met other high producers who had lost their jobs for the same reason. Debra soon learned that shooting stars have a short life cycle if they are unable to relate to and understand others. The number one-factor that sets high-powered professionals apart from the pack is a high level of emotional intelligence, compassion and energy to function in a team environment.

The military became interested in EQ after an Italian terrorist group kidnapped U.S. Army Brigadier General James Dozier. Dozier relates that he was horrified as he observed his abductors waving about weapons, yelling and acting both emotionally and irrational. At some point during Dozier's imprisonment, Dozier recalled leadership training about emotions being contagious and how a single person can influence the emotional tone of a group by modeling. Dozier got his fear and emotions under control and soon noted that his captors seemed to be calmer and more rational. Upon Dozier's rescue by special forces two months later, he reflected on the scenario and realized that regulating his emotions literally saved his life in that environment.

On July 15, 2000 Red Sox centerfielder, Carl Everett, lost control of his emotions on the field disgracing himself and his teammates. Carl began arguing with the umpire and utilized inappropriate language in front of young fans and a national television audience. Carl's emotions flared so much that his teammates had to restrain him after he head butted the umpire. Upon leaving the playing field, he punched a bat rack and kicked a cooler in the dugout resulting in personal injury to his hand. Despite Carl's all-star baseball skills and status, he lacked emotional skills.

Organizations that have launched EQ training to fulfill this educational gap

According to the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence, after launching an EQ training program, American Express managers increased business by 18.1% compared to 16.2% for those who had not received the EQ training. In jobs that involve sales and mechanical skills, employees with high EQ are 12 times more productive than those with low EQ. Insurance sales professionals and account managers with high emotional intelligence are 127 percent more productive.

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida realizes the importance of EQ and addresses emotional intelligence issues in their Crew Resource curriculum. EQ training strengthens flight crew awareness and it is hoped it will raise flight crews' ability to maintain situational awareness and further decrease the human component of airline incidents and accidents.

Supreme Court Justice Douglas is noted for saying that 90% of all decisions are emotional and that creates most all problems. Considering that crimes committed such as theft, rape, hit and run are emotionally driven, one has to speculate that this same decision-making process often occurs in organizations. Managers need to lead by example, with clear, consistent messages, with values and ethics that work full time. EQ can be a learned behavior and organizations can benefit by incorporating EQ training into their management training programs.


The Author


Freda Turner, Ph.D. is a researcher of best business practices and is affiliated with the University of Phoenix Doctoral and Graduate Studies Programs. She may be reached at

Many more articles in Emotional Intelligence in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2002 by Freda Turner. All rights reserved.

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