The psychology of organisational politics influences how things operate within a political environment, just as argued by Dale Carnegie (1888 – 1955), “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotions.” It goes to reason that paying attention to emotions is fundamental to our leaders.
Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) is increasingly becoming an important factor as the intelligence quotient (IQ) in leadership. Goleman (1997) in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, equates EQ to “…persist[ing] in the face of frustrations…, control[ling] impulse…, and keep[ing] distress from swamping the ability to think, empathize, and hope.” In an article titled “What Makes a Leader” in the Harvard Business Review, Goleman (2004) makes the point:
The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence…My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.Goleman (2004)
IQ alone is not enough as shown by the floundering pro-Mthwakazi agenda. What often separates good leaders from bad ones is EQ; if one’s emotional aptitude is compromised, if they lack self-awareness, if they are unable to manage their distressing emotions, if they are emotionally detached from the led, if they lack empathy and cannot form effective relationships they are incapable of successfully leading anything.
EQ, a subset of social intelligence, can best be defined as the unique ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others. Arguably, sensitivity to both internal and external emotions makes one a better leader.
Leadership is a package beyond IQ and a good grasp of the material content of one’s role; it is being a people person; it is about recognising that you are leading humans and appreciating that humans are by nature more emotional than logical beings. Therefore to effectively lead Mthwakazi people, we need to connect with and win them from the heart first.
An emotionally intelligent individual is both highly conscious of his/ her own emotional states, including negativity —frustration, sadness, or something more subtle— and able to identify and manage them. People endowed with these attributes are often tuned in to the emotions experienced by others.
Below we examine five pillars of EQ; these are fundamental to a leader’s ability to make choices/ decisions on various issues:
1. Self-awareness. Appreciate you do not know everything, leaders must have the ability to recognise what they do not know and take steps to learn.
2. Self-control and self-regulation. The ability to control one’s impulses is necessary for thoughtful and deliberate decision-making, especially under high-pressure and delicate circumstances.
3. Empathy. Our leaders will only make progress in addressing our country’s challenges when they have the trust of the people. That is why empathy, or understanding the perspectives of others, is such a powerful leadership skill.
4. Motivation. We need a leader able to pursue his/ her dream and do it in such a manner that others follow him/ her; we need a person who knows how to coalesce people around a common vision.
5. Social Skills. Ability to communicate effectively with others, handling and influencing their emotions is essential in selling one’s ideas to the public.
For a long time, it has become apparent that Mthwakazi lacks leaders with the willpower to embrace all responsibilities that true leaders have to bear. To be a good leader one should be willing to make sacrifices. That will mean to accept the responsibility that goes with leading people; accept you are no longer just a person but a reference point upon whom masses have placed trust to make important decisions on their behalf and a person upon whom the public rely on to shape their futures. Understand that your bad decisions may impact not only you but a whole nation, if not generation and future generations.
It is normal and natural for Mthwakazi citizens to expect their leader to be prepared for change and learning and be accepting of the fact certain aspects of his/ her personality may need to be revised, improved or discarded for him/ her to take the responsibility and honour of leading the great nation of Mthwakazi.
Being politically savvy is about capturing the moment. It is important that we objectively and consistently reflect on internal practices some of which hamper progress. It is increasingly evident that the psychological framing of the pro-Mthwakazi agenda debate is poor and requires review.
The depth of political analysis and action is limited by the internal weaknesses that we fail to notice. As a result of the failure to notice that we are failing to identify intricate dynamics of our political space we fail to adapt our action in time for the betterment of our agenda.
Our leaders must pay attention to their emotions to better understand public emotion and reflect on it, the public will in turn connect with the leaders who then will stand a better chance of leading them. We have a responsibility to build and maintain strong emotional skills that will ensure an emotionally healthy leadership team. We must protect the pro-Mthwakazi struggle and not allow it to be derailed by emotional incompetence, inability to handle interpersonal problems and unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.