The Connection between Emotional Intelligence and Innovation in Becoming Leaders
By Douglas A. Colquhoun, MB ChB, from the IARS, AUA and SOCCA 2019 Annual Meetings*
An innovative session, “Emotional Intelligence and the Innovative Leader,” presented in a workshop format during the IARS 2019 Annual Meeting Sunday, May 19, explored the relationship between emotional intelligence and innovation.
The session, delivered by Jean Ann Larson, FACHE, LFHIMSS, FIISE, DSHS, Chief Leadership Development Officer at the University of Alabama Birmingham and Duane Wilson, Program Director, Notre Dame Innovates at the University of Notre Dame, drew an international group of anesthesiologists from across the entire career spectrum to participate.
The development of emotional quotient (EQ) has proved useful in the navigation of interpersonal differences, management of change, innovative thinking and the building of relationships. The emergence of the EQ concept can be traced back to Emotional Intelligence, a 1995 book by Daniel Goleman.
Workshop participants were challenged to consider the paradox of how employment decisions may be made on experience and qualifications, but long-term success appears to be based on interpersonal relationships, self-regulation and reacting to change. These predictors of longer-term success appears to strongly correlated with concepts explored in EQ.
To illustrate the diversity of the participants, Dr. Larson conducted a brief exercise to demonstrate the participants varying reactions to 15 pictures. This varied substantially across attendees. Participants interpreted the same picture as illustrating different emotional states or situations, which resonated with their own experiences and expertise. One less emotive example appeared to show an athletic climber reaching for their next hold. One participant with particular expertise was able to see that this photo was staged. In reviewing these instant responses, participants were challenged to consider their reactions and how these may be modulated by considered response.
Participants were challenged to consider stressful or negative emotionally charged situations where it may be harder to develop a considered response. The workshop continued by the exploring five domains of emotional intelligence: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Social Awareness (formerly referred to as Empathy), and Social Regulation (Social Skills). Through a blend of educational content and a series of interactive exercises, the participants learned and shared with each other how they may develop their emotional intelligence in each of these domains.
The second half of the session examined the connection between emotional intelligence and innovation in leadership. Using an example of how change can be viewed as traumatic, the underlying causes of this trauma were explored. Recognizing in the presented example that there was a high degree of deference to tradition, a series of creative solutions were proposed. More generally, the workshop traced the path of innovation and creativity driven by inspiration (which in turn may have arisen from imagination or necessity).
Highly-skilled change leadership was shown to emerge not from rank or title within a hierarchy but from creative mindset, innovative vision and a collaborative spirit. Participants were challenged to identify areas in which they have leadership and reframe the challenges they may face as questions, posing these in a manner that invites collaboration. Successful collaboration was shown to emerge from recognizing the strengths of the proposals presented by other team members and how such an orientation invites and encourages their development. In the final exercise of the program, participants evaluated their unique creative thinking styles. They reflected on the strengths and weaknesses of their style and how this may compliment or clash with the style of other members of the team.
The inclusion of workshops like this enables the development of leadership within the field of anesthesia, particularly for those in the earliest stages of their career. The role of Dr. Keith “Tony” Jones, IARS Trustee, Senior Associate Dean Clinical Affairs, University of Alabama Birmingham, and the support of IARS for the development and organization of this workshop was recognized during the session.
*Coverage from the workshop, Emotional Intelligence and the Innovative Leader, during the IARS 2019 Annual Meeting