Transforming Fear to Joy

Leadership Style — Are You Ambitious or Authentic?

If running a small, medium, large or global enterprise truly requires emotional intelligence as well as industry knowledge and technical expertise, then why do so many corporate leaders score low on emotional intelligence? In a recent study of 1500 senior global executives, Gurnek Bains revealed some fascinating leadership strengths and limitations that ran across enterprise borders and global cultures. In a number of skill areas defining thinking, leadership, motivation and interpersonal interaction, these global leaders scored lowest (often well below 10%) on their ability to be self-aware and form bonds with others.


If you recall, emotional intelligence (EI) is defined by one’s ability to appropriately understand, use and manage one’s emotions across the variety of human experience. This capacity to be socially and self-aware also provides distinct strategic advantages in the business world (link to a mini free emotional intelligence assessment). The theory behind EI states the more able we are to understand and manage our emotions as well as understand those of others, not only do we develop stronger relationships, but we achieve better results from our actions.  Given that business is about relationships, common sense would agree with the theory.

If senior executives and CEOs are truly being hired for their ability to produce results, then could not one assume their strengths would be self-awareness and the ability to form bonds with others? However, this data does not support that claim. Somehow there exists a gap between leadership theory and actual practice when considering EI capabilities. What Bains’ 1500 leaders do share, across their global borders and cultures, is their motivation as defined by their ambitious natures. In most cases, ambition registered stronger than creative, strategic and visionary thinking.


So, what does this leave us to believe? Is ambition (desire and determination) the number one motivation for succeeding in life? Or, should our authenticity and personal integrity (truthfulness and honesty) supersede ambition as our main drivers? If contentment and being at peace are what you seek, then knowing who you are and living authentically in that truth no matter what crosses your path is your road to success. If material wealth or power is your definition for getting ahead, then very likely your ambition is driving your measurement of success.

Recently, a friend sent me this thought for the day, which presents yet another way to view success and leadership.

Through conscience,
we connect to the passion of vision and the power of principles.
Through creative imagination,
we envision possibilities and ways to achieve them.
Through self-awareness,
we set goals and stay open to change.
Through independent will,
we have the integrity to walk our talk.

 Unknown author

Consider your own leadership style. Are you driven by ambition or authenticity?

For more on authentic leadership, click here.

Picture of Author: Helen Maupin

Author: Helen Maupin

Helen is passionate about transforming fear into love — from her, for her, for all. She expresses her commitment to transformation through writing poetry, self-awareness and yoga books, co-designing organizations into adaptive enterprises and deepening her daily meditation and yoga practices.


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