Emotional intelligence (EI)

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Having strong emotional intelligence (EI) as a leader can help your company succeed. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capacity to control one's own emotions as well as those of others. To harness and apply emotions to tasks like problem-solving, leaders must be emotionally aware. In addition, they must control their emotions while calming down or encouraging staff to deal with these feelings (Brown, 2010). Howard Schultz, Fred Smith, and Robert Iger are three businessmen that have exemplified emotional intelligence in their leadership by embracing the key components of EI: self-regulation, self-awareness, motivation, social skills, and empathy. These factors work together to develop these leaders' ability to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. Howard Schultz, the Starbucks CEO reflects the emotional intelligence in his trait approach to leadership. Schultz is committed to understanding the employee’s needs as well as building relationships. The transformational leader acknowledges that the motivation of Starbucks employees can spur similar pride in customers. Schultz believes in instilling confidence to help catapult over hurdles (Stone, 2002). For instance, Schultz returned as CEO during the 2008 economic downturn when the firm registered great losses. However, he did not blame the firm’s slump or employees but took responsibility with enthusiasm and passion for reviving operations at Starbucks. Additionally, Schultz depicts kindness and compassion in the employee-focused organization by providing comprehensive healthcare, stock options and several other benefits to employees. By focusing on the inner theatre, Schultz provides an insight of how past relationships can affect relationships, behavior and future self. The leader recognizes the insubstantiality of his past particularly the difficult upbringing and relationship with his father. Nevertheless, through forgiveness, Schultz has utilized flaws, breakdowns of life and failures as an opportunity to awaken greater capability and compassion among Starbucks employees.

Notably, Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx Express also acknowledges the significance of employees in the business. Smith has registered improvements in speed and logistics because of employing people leadership. The organization is committed to building leadership skills to manage the dynamic workforce. FedEx has adopted a program to develop and assess emotional intelligence among new managers at their Global Learning Institute. The employees are given an annual opportunity to provide feedback on managers for review and rationing of their performance. The participants of the program have experienced improved leadership outcomes and developed emotional intelligence skills (Brown, 2010). Additionally, the firm has established a Six Seconds Model, a process framework that ensures employees use emotional intelligence on a daily basis. FedEx has therefore built a culture that enables employees to feel the drive for outstanding performance in a justifiable manner.

Robert Iger, the CEO Walt Disney showed interest in people leadership when he got into office. Iger’s focus was on renewed traditional animation, technological innovation, and international expansion. His predecessor Michael Wisner used a factory approach that allowed teams to come up with new ideas and opinions and forward them to the directors. However, upon succession, Iger rearranged the process and appointed creative directors giving them the power to develop origin ideas. He acquired Lucasfilm, Pixar and Marvel Entertainment but maintained their innovation leaders. Iger interacts freely with these leaders, and this approach has seen Pixar produce Frozen and Inside Out, some of the most successful animations. Iger depicts the use of EI to appease egos and arbitrate turf wars (Brown, 2010). The leader is a good listener, collaborative and diplomatic. Most importantly, he believes in a devolved culture of decision making and policy formulation.

Conclusively, based on the personal background and leadership approaches of the three CEOs it can be deduced that EI is vital to people leadership and developing an effective devolved culture in business. The new economy is characterized by increased alienation, an escalating of change, and the growing search for meaning (Stone, 2002). As a result, an act of forgiveness, compassion, and kindness is vital in the welfare of employees. At individual levels, employees become more responsible and innovative, have greater autonomy, openness, and freedom to express themselves. At the team levels, they develop a sense of belonging, direction and have their roles defined. These factors result in the development of an authentic culture, employee retention, empowerment, pride in the organization and a flexible workforce at an organizational level.


Brown, D. R. (2010). An Experimental Approach to Organization Development (8th ed). Pearson.

Stone, M. (2002). Forgiveness in the Workplace. Industrial and Commercial Training, 34(7): 278-286.

March 02, 2023

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