The Effective Leader: Understanding and Applying Emotional Intelligence
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The Ebola Virus
The following paper is an analysis of how emotional intelligence impacts a leader’s ability to make effective decisions. The first section of the essay defines the parameters of emotional intelligence, transformational leadership and effective decision-making. This is followed by an explanation of how the aspects of emotional intelligence affect a leader’s ability to make effective decisions regarding an organization and how emotional intelligence is fundamental to leadership. The last section of the paper concludes with leaders’ responsibilities that are employed through the use of emotional intelligence.
Keywords: emotional intelligence, effective decision-making, leadership
The most deadly killers on this earth are too small to see with thenaked eye. These microscopic predators are viruses. In my report, I will answer many basic questions concerning one of the fastest killing viruses, theEbola virus. Questions such as “How does it infect its victims?”, “How areEbola victims treated?”, “How are Ebola outbreaks controlled?” and many othersrelated to this deadly virus.
The Ebola virus is a member of the negative stranded RNA viruses knownas filoviruses. There are four different strains of the Ebola virus – Zaire(EBOZ), Sudan (EBOS), Tai (EBOT) and Reston (EBOR). They are very similarexcept for small serological differences and gene sequence differences. TheReston Strain is the only one which does not affect humans. The Ebola viruswas named after the Ebola river in Zaire, Africa after its first outbreak in1976.
When magnified by an electron microscope, the ebola virus resembles longfilaments and are threadlike in shape. It usually is found in the form of a “U-shape”. There are many 7nm spikes which are 10nm apart from each other visibleon the surface of the virus. The average length and diameter of the virus is920nm and 80nm. The virons are highly variable in length (polymorphic), someattaining lengths as long as 14000nm. The Ebola virus consists of a helicalnucleocapsid, which is a protein coat and the nucleic acid it encloses, and ahost cell membrane, which is a lipoprotein unit that surrounds the virus andderived form the host cell’s membrane. The virus is composed of 7 polypeptides,a nucleoprotein, a glycoprotein, a polymerase and 4 other undesignated proteins.These proteins are synthesized by mRNA that are transcribed by the RNA of thevirus. The genome consists of a single strand of negative RNA, which isnoninfectious itself. The order of it is as follows: 3′ untranslated region,nucleoprotein, viral structured protein, VP35, VP40 glycoprotein, VP30, VP24,polymerase(L), 5′ untranslated region.
How it infects
Once the virus enters the body, it travels through the blood stream andis replicated in many organs. The mechanism used to penetrate the membranes ofcells and enter the cell is still unknown. Once the virus is inside a cell, theRNA is transcribed and replicated. The RNA is transcribed, producing mRNA whichare used to produce the virus’ proteins. The RNA is replicated in the cytoplasmand is mediated by the synthesis of an antisense positive RNA strand whichserves as a template for producing additional Ebola genomes. As the infectionprogresses, the cytoplasm develops “prominent inclusion bodies” which means thatit will contain the viral nucleocapsid that will become highly ordered. Thevirus then assembles and buds off from the host cell, while obtaining itslipoprotein coat from the outer membrane. This destruction of the host celloccurs rapidly, while producing large numbers of viruses budding from it.
What it infects
The Ebola virus mainly attacks cells of the lymphatic organs, liver,kidney, ovaries, testes, and the cells of the reticuloendothelial system. Themassive destruction of the liver is the trademark of Ebola. The victim loosesvast amounts of blood especially in mucosa, abdomen, pericardium and the vagina.Capillary leakage and bleeding leads to a massive loss in intravascular volume.In fatal cases, shock and acute respiratory disorder can also be seen along withthe bleeding. Numerous victims are delirious due to high fevers and many die of intractable shock.
During the onset of Ebola, the host will experience weakness, fever,muscle pain, headache and sore throat. As the infection progresses, vomiting(usually black), limited kidney and liver function, chest and abdominal pain,rash and diarrhoea begin. External bleeding from skin and injection sites andinternal bleeding from organs occur due to failure of blood to clot.
How “patient zero” (first to be infected) acquires natural infection isstill a mystery. After the first person is infected, further spread of Ebola toother humans (secondary transmission) is due to direct contact with bodilyfluids such as blood, secretions and excretions. It is also spread throughcontact with the patients skin which carries the virus. Spread can beaccomplish either by person to person transmission, needle transmission orthrough sexual contact. Person to person transmission occurs when people havedirect contact with Ebola patients and do not have suitable protection. Familymembers and doctors who contract the virus usually obtain it from this type oftransmission. Needle transmission occurs when needles, which have been used onEbola patients, are reused. This happens frequently in developing countriessuch as Zaire and Sudan because the heath care is underfinanced. A lucky personwho has recovered from the Ebola virus can also infect another person thoughsexual contact. This is because the person may still carry the virus in his/hergenital. A fourth method of transmission is airborne transmission. This typeis not proven 100% although there have been several experiments done to provethat this type of transmission is highly possible. The time between theinvasion of Ebola and the appearance of its symptoms (incubation period) is 2-21days.
How it is diagnosed
Diagnosing the Ebola virus may take up to 10 days. The methods used todetect the virus are very slow, compared to how rapid Ebola can kill its victims.Blood or tissue samples are sent to a high- containment laboratory designed forworking with infected substances and are tested for specific antigens,antibodies or the viruses genetic material itself. Recently, a skin test hasbeen developed which can detect infections much faster. A skin biopsy specimenis fixed in a chemical called Formaline, which kills the virus, and is thensafely transported to a lab. It is processed with chemicals and if the deadEbola virus is present, the specimen will turn bright red.
Emotional intelligence is an overall assessment of an individual’s capacity to control emotions, comprehend and respond to others’ emotions and manage relationships. Charles Darwin at first realized this concept when he focused on the significance of emotional expression in adaptation and survival. Thorndike (1920) later used social intelligence as a description for the skill of understanding and managing other people. Wayne Payne is attributed to the first term of emotional intelligence. On the other hand, EI has been mentioned in Salovey and Mayer (1990) and Goleman (1995).Emotional Intelligence refers to the capacity to mutually understand and manage your emotions and those of people around you. Individuals who have a high degree of emotional intelligence generally know what they are feeling and how the impact their emotions have on people around them. Emotional intelligence is vital for leaders who want success. (Mayer & Caruso, 2012). According to Bradberry and Greaves (2009), Daniel Goleman publicized the idea of Emotional Intelligence and lays out the means of measuring and improving ones’ EI.
Bradberry and Greaves proved that everyone can learn, and develop their EI. They identified four vital EI skills that could be learnt and classified them into two types of competencies; personal and social competencies.
Self-awareness: according to Daniel Goleman, this is considered a foundation for emotional intelligence. It consists of (a) emotional self-awareness which is related to the ability to realize emotions and the effect they have on ones’ life; (b) accurate self-awareness which is concerned with ascertaining ones strengths and limitations. A leader who is self-aware will most likely acquire sense of purpose and meaning of their life (Sosik & Megerian, 1999). People are secure, comfortable, and confident that they are on the right track when they are aware of their values. Evidently, being self-aware means that one has a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses.
Self-management: This refers to the ability to manage your emotions, reacting to situations and other people’s emotions. Leaders who control themselves commendably barely make emotional decisions or verbally attack others. This requires some competency to cope with impulsive emotions.
Trustworthiness: This involves being honest and taking action that corresponds to your values.
Achievement: Leaders should develop their performance to meet their standards of excellence.
Initiative: according to Nesbit (2012), leaders should take action when necessary.
Social awareness: as stated by Bradberry and Greaves, this is the ability to not only be an active listener and watch others to get the sense of how they are feeling but also look outward to learn about others and appreciate them.
Relationship management: this is the ability of leaders to use their awareness of their own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully. Leaders with good social skills are good at resolving conflicts diplomatically and managing change effectively. They set examples with their own behavior.
Transformational leadership is primarily associated with creative behaviors (Jung et. al., 2003). Their role is to indoctrinate pride, facilitate creative thinking, create more effective communication skills and encourage followers to discover new ways to contest the status quo. Bass (1985) identified four key elements to make his approach on transformational leadership more practical:
Idealized influence, as said by (Day and Antonakis, 2012; Antonakis, 2004) it refers to two types: (a) attributes related to the personality of a leader to be alleged as trustee and powerful; (b) behavior perceived as compelling deeds of a leader who mainly focuses on overcoming obstacles challenging the followers by instilling faith and pride in order to change their attitudes, beliefs, feelings and goals and transform to a new age.
Inspirational motivation denotes the abilities of leaders to articulate a vision that is alluring to the followers. Such leaders challenge followers with high standards, provide meaning for task at hand and communicate optimism about future goals. For followers to be motivated to act, they need to have a strong sense of purpose. These two elements purpose and meaning provide the energy that drives a group to move forward. Visionary characteristics of leaders are supported by communications skills that make the vision plausible, powerful, precise and engaging. When followers are encouraged and optimistic about future goals and believe in their abilities, they are willing to put in more effort in their tasks at hand.
Individualized consideration: this is the amount of attention a leader gives to each follower’ needs, listens to the follower’s apprehensions acts as a mentor to the follower. This also involves the need for respect and celebrates each contribution that each follower makes to the team.
Intellectual stimulation: this is the ability of a leader to take risks, solicit followers’ ideas and address challenges. Such leaders fuel and encourage creativity in their followers and nurture and develop individuals who think independently. When followers ask questions they think deeply about things before they figure out better ways to execute their tasks.
According to Jung et. al. (2003),over the years organizations have undergone dramatic changes owing to advancements in technology, global completion and changing nature of workforce that is imposed on them to be more innovative. These advancements together with the turbulent environmental changes have obligated managers and leaders to broaden their minds to identify and predict its influence on their personalities. Above all, the basis of this process is the leader who affects the followers’ attitude towards achieving the stated goals. Managers and leaders who know their feelings and how to use them have advantages over those who do not. Scholars and theorists have carefully studied leadership in the perspective of the environment surrounding the organizations along with the individuals. Traditional management counts on rules and regulations and the know how to control input and output processes. On the other hand, the emerging concept depends on shared leadership and vision. For that reason, organizations need prime effectiveness since it is essential to comprehend that leadership is deliberated to be the essential part of effective management. Accordingly, decision making is one of the attributes of an efficient leader. As a vital component of management, outstanding leadership behavior emphasizes on building an environment in which each employee develops and acquires success.
The fundamental component of successful leadership today and in the near future is practical and effective receptiveness to change. It is a necessity for successful leaders to be flexible and capable of adjusting to new conditions, open to new alternatives and enthusiastic to take greater risks. An environment with uncertainty and high stress levels encourages thoughts of how to be more innovative and intelligent instead of using the old methodologies of accomplishing their tasks. This ultimately improves their efficiency and enhances their minds to think outside the box. Each and every one undergoes various types of emotions during work or even in the personal life. Conversely, Fineman (1996) stated that in earlier studies, the issue of emotions in business organizations has never been taken seriously. Previously, researchers found out that emotional intelligence is an important part of an effective leadership. Emotional intelligence also has a strong relation with decision making and organizational performance. Emotionally intelligent individuals have high commitment to organization and use positive emotions to enhance the decision making process. Various studies support the argument that leadership is basically an emotional process while another variety ignores the role played by emotions in leadership processes.
A study by Sosik and Megerian (1999) provided pragmatic support for emotional intelligence being the basis of other aspects leadership. This data for the study was collected from managers, subordinates and management superiors. The managers reported their evaluation of their emotional intelligence and leadership behavior. On the other hand the subordinates reported their observation on their managers’ transformational leadership behavior and outcome of their performance while each manager’s superior evaluated managerial performance. This found out the aspects of emotional intelligence that distinguish leaders who are in agreement with others regarding their transformational leadership qualities from those who are not coinciding (p. 368). Leaders who underestimated their leadership were absolutely linked to social self-confidence. Then again leaders who overrated their abilities were adversely related to sensitivity. In their study they also stated that self-awareness may offer individuals greater perceived control over interpersonal events and consequences in their life… transformational leaders who are self-aware possess high levels of self-confidence and provide orientation to the followers (p384). Managers who maintain a precise self-awareness have more aspects of emotional intelligence and seem to have more efficiency to their superiors and subordinates. The high public self-consciousness attribute of emotional intelligence may be use full for managers who are interested in maximizing performance assessment ratings. However, this does not guarantee high ratings of transformational leadership and effectiveness by the subordinates.
Pitcher’s (1999) finding on a leader with emotional intelligence describes a company led by a CEO with high emotional intelligence and was succeed by a CEO without emotional intelligence. She begins with describing the highly emotional intelligent CEO who takes over a medium sized company. His vision is to build the company into a global organization operating in investments, life insurance and banking services (p. 32). He had this dream at a time that most people had the belief that banking and insurance would never meet. Conversely, the company was worth $20 billion and was and integrated Service Company in Asia, North America and Europe after 15 years. His colleagues pronounced him as a warm, imaginative, generous, people-oriented, daring and funny person. Pitcher further explains that the generous, people oriented traits helped him draw interest from great colleagues and investors and keep them. His emotional and inspiring qualities allowed his interests to spread. His visionary, daring, intuitive and unpredictable traits helped him to concentrate on the goal and avoid short-term fulfillments and accomplish his goals. The CEO encircled himself with the best talent he could find. He sat on the independent boards and asked questions but never interfered with the staff. Pitcher terms the other executives as artists and craftsmen. The craftsmen were defined to be trustworthy, well-balanced, sensible, realistic and reasonable. They complemented the artists. These craftsmen understood that people make mistakes and learn from them. They knew that if you drive out error you drive out innovation. Craftsmen handled the day-to-day tasks. The company had other six people whom Pitcher refers to as technocrats. They were termed as being intense, determined, uncompromising, analytical and hard-headed (p. 32). Time and again they misjudged the people around them. She adds that they got the wrong impression of others, markets and situations. Never did they learn from their mistakes because they always thought it was their colleagues’ fault. Those who erred in any way were fired. Pitcher further explains how the CEO came to feel that it was time to leave and let in someone new.
Pitcher writes that the leadership was later handed over to the second in command who was a technocrat. She characterizes him as analytical, uncompromising and brilliant. She believes that such a leader would find decentralization a slack way of doing business. As a result he began to centralize the decision making process and created a new head office that replaced the affiliates’ authority. By 1992, all the craftsmen and artists running the affiliates were gradually fired and replaced with what the new CEO termed as competent professionals. In three years the organization was dead. Pitcher argues out that if you do not have respect for the emotional qualities that come with creativity, you drive out the atypical vision of an artist… an organization without trustworthiness, dreams, skills and dedication can go downhill very fast (p. 33). The first chief executive officer characterized himself with most of the attributes that are linked to emotional intelligence. He demonstrated accurate self-awareness by his ability to know his strengths and limits. He encircled himself with people with the abilities that he did not have; craftsmen, technocrats and other artists. In following his dream he displayed self-awareness and self-regulation aspects of emotional intelligence. His openness to new ideas, constant learning; demonstrated by asking questions at board meetings and listening to the replies, and his decentralization of power displayed empathy. According to Goleman (1995), empathy is being aware of other people’s feelings, their apprehensions and needs. The CEO displayed another aspect of emotional intelligence by nurturing relationships with investors, his employees and colleagues. In accordance to Cooper (1997), these attributes lead to trust which is the second most essential trait of emotional intelligence. Trustworthiness is essential in leadership as shown in the previously described study. In absence of trust much time and effort is lost in non-yielding activities for the reason that leaders feel obligated to draw up procedures in a great aspect. Cooper further suggests that it is most probable that the second CEO lost the employees’ trust due to the lack of emotional intelligence. He was not aware of how his emotions were impacting the employees.
It is essential for a leader to have emotional intelligence in order to align personal and subordinate goals. Belasco and Stayer (1993) suggest that there are four responsibilities a leader must put in place at all levels of an organization. (a) Transfer the ownership of the work to the people who actually do the work; (b) Come up with an environment where the transfer of ownership can take place and where each individual wants to be responsible for their performance. This involves painting a clear picture of what the organization belief of a great performance; (c) Leaders should improve individual capability and competence; (d) they should come up with conditions in the organization that challenge the leader and everyone to continue learning. These four principles put in line personal and company goals by the use of emotional intelligence.
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