It doesn't matter how much market research you do or how many studies you read. Emotionally intelligent leaders rely on their gut before making any major decision.
This is one of the key messages Daniel Goleman delivered at the World Business Forum in New York City on Wednesday. Goleman, a former New York Times science reporter, psychologist, and author of Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, stressed that one of the most integral parts of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. This idea of knowing what you feel and how it impacts your performance effects your decision making, and ultimately the trajectory of your career.
He says the emotional centers of the brain get a summarized version of your past experiences when faced with a turning point. "Our life wisdom, our life experience is collected out of our awareness constantly as we go through life," says Goleman.
Unfortunately, you can't just queue up this skill. It happens subconsciously, says Goleman. "Part of the brain that's accumulated these decisions, gives you the answer, but it has no connection to part of the brain that thinks in words." Instead, the decision is sent to your gut, and whether you want to call it a "sixth-sense" or intuition that's where emotional intelligence kicks in. It either feels right or it doesn't.
"It's not that you ignore the other data," says Goleman. "This is data, too."
Goleman referenced a study by Noam Wasserman, professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship at University of Southern California, which observed dozens of founders and utilized a dataset of 16,000 U.S. entrepreneurs. The successful founders were voracious gatherers of data, but once they had the numbers, they checked them against their gut to see if it "felt right."
"There are certain elements in every decision that you just have to use your best judgement for because there's no numbers, there's no numeric scale for those kinds of things," adds Goleman.