Emotional Intelligence and the Presidency of Donald Trump Sophie Merryweather

Sophie Merryweather - July 2018

Emotional Intelligence has become a really hot topic of conversation around leadership and an organisations journey to success in the last few years. Emotional Intelligence was found to be responsible for 58% of your overall job performance, deeming it a trait to be desired in candidates and leaders alike.

So first things first, what is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence (EI) spreads over 3 key areas that determine your level. Number one is an individual's awareness of their own feelings and emotions and being able to name, identify and manage their own emotions and feelings. Number two is an individual having the ability to identify, name and manage the feelings of others around them. And finally, three, is an individual's ability to relate to others in effective ways, both personally and professionally.

So in short, EI has destroyed the theory that nice guys finish last- in fact research has shown that 90% of top performers have a high level of EI.

Now, with that in mind, I have something to tell you all...

It's pretty 'yuge'.

Donal Trump's IQ tweet

Having a high level of EI is being viewed as more important than having a high IQ. EI is quickly becoming one of the most sought after attributes due to its association with success in business. One study found that emotional intelligence mattered twice as much as technical knowledge or IQ for high performance.

In a recent study, The Centre for Creative Leadership outlined that 75% of careers are 'derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.' So without the acknowledgment of EI's importance things are bound to come crashing down.

So it is obviously an important trait to have in an employee, but don't bosses need to be a more authoritative figure? Well, if you imagine the ideal leader you think about someone who never lets their temper get the best of them, no matter what the situation is they can keep a cool head. You might think of someone who has the complete trust in their staff, listens, is easy to talk to, and always makes decisions that are informed and for the best for everyone. Just think, who is more likely to succeed? - a leader who screams and shouts at their team when they're under pressure, or a leader who stays in level-headed and calmly assesses the situation?

Now, IQ is not something that tends to change throughout your life time, it is inborn and is more difficult to improve. Whereas EQ is something you can develop and grow as you progress and move through your life. Perhaps if the president put less emphasis on how high his IQ is and took into consideration the equally important level of EQ the media might stop throwing the 'I' word around as much.

Google Impeachment Search

Putting EI into Perspective

If we look at a how to identify emotional intelligence, there are a number of different definitions and traits to determine the level of EI an individual has. Dulewicz and Higgs came up with 7 core elements for the overall construct, they are; self-awareness, emotional resilience, motivation, interpersonal sensitivity, influence, intuitiveness and finally conscientiousness and integrity.

With Donald Trump's visit to the UK becoming a reality this Thursday, what better time for us to look into the last year and see how Trump's leadership style has been affected by his Emotional Intelligence level!

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-awareness is the understanding of your own feeling and having the ability to manage them.

    If you browse through Donald's tweets from this week, it would appear he has a complete and utter lack of self-awareness. He says things so far out of the realms of appropriate or professional behaviour, from celebrity trolling to actively calling out the Leader of North Korea in some kind of bizarre arms race. And if you really want to go into it, you can think about how his refusal to acknowledge his previous failures (i.e. the golf course in Scotland, where he created one of the most hideously hostile living environment that residents had no choice but to leave and sell their land for the cause.) and learn from them is possibly going to be his downfall, as the 24/7 media and social sphere watches his every obnoxious tweet and blatant misstep, waiting to pounce.

  • Emotional Resilience
  • Emotional resilience is the ability to perform consistently even what faced with criticism and changing circumstances.

    Well, to be honest and fair- This seem to be one of the only traits that we could see a slight hint of Trump possessing. He does continue with his ideas and beliefs no matter how much criticism and opposition he faces. However on the first side of the definition, consistency is severely lacking. Trump is one of the first people to comment when a situation arises with another country, his recent comments of Brexit to start, however when the news covers, another questionable police shooting or child immigration detention centres, he seems to fall fairly quiet...

  • Motivation
  • Motivation is the drive and energy you use to achieve results and deal with challenges and rejections.

    Although it would be unfair to completely dismiss the motivation as a trait completely because obviously he is extremely motivated, moving from a silver-spoon-business-tycoon to the president of the United States. However it would be laughable to ignore the kind of motivation he has when facing challenges or rejection- to mercilessly denounce the reputations and character of his opponents and rivals in a childish bullying campaign to make them feel small enough he hopes they just get on board? Either way playground tactics don't last...

  • Interpersonal Sensitivity
  • Interpersonal sensitivity is the awareness of others feelings and needs and also the ability to use this awareness to interact with them effectively.

    'Special relationships' aside, interpersonal sensitivity, AGAIN, is not Trump's strength. He has an ideal image of America at the forefront of his mind and will bulldoze and build walls around everyone who threatens to get in his way, rather than work with them effectively. Trump has done more damage to international relationships than building new ones.

  • Influence
  • Influence is the ability to persuade others to change their viewpoint on a problem, issue or decision.

    In relation to Trump I think we may have reached a moot point in regards to influence. Yes, there is no question that Trumps fearmongering and out-there ideas created the following that got him into power, however now he is in office and has the money and power, and the influence has become irrelevant in the argument.

  • Intuitiveness
  • Intuitiveness is the ability to use insight and interaction to arrive at a decision when faced with some kind of ambiguity.

    Hmm, I do understand that the literal definition would mean that Trump does in fact have a level of intuition, BUT let's be sensible, the understanding should be that the insight and interaction should be coming from trusted and sensible sources... I wouldn't say Trump's cabinet really meet the mark.

    Mike Pence on Women in the Army


  • Conscientiousness and integrity
  • Conscientiousness and integrity create the ability to display commitment to an action or idea in the face of challenge and acting in line with the understood ethical requirements.

    Ethical requirements... Trump has literally stripped the rights of so many minority groups, to talk about his integrity would be a waste of time.

    Let's wrap it up.

    Emotional Intelligence, and our ability to draw on it as a reserve, helps us in so many ways; from helping us to look after ourselves, mentally and physically (but why bother when you can insist your doctor writes a letter about your 'astonishingly excellent health'), to our ability to inspire those around us and our ability to lead.

    Donald Trump Protest

    (Although this may not be the desired action he wanted to inspire.)

    It's there in our ability to manage effective relationships and our armour and shield when it comes to difficult situations and resolving conflicts. It is, in so many ways, the key element to driving success.

    But then again, to quote THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES 'One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don't go into government.'

    So why change now, right?

    Giant Donald Trump Balloon in London

    Reference and further reading:


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