Emotional intelligence capacity building in developing leaders of social change organisations

The nature of emerging social change organizations is that they are adversity and change facing and adversity and change generating. Adversity in this context is an event that triggers a failure appraisal. This implies an on-going, if not chronic potential for of failure appraisal events. This is the recognition that the social change organisation leader is compelled to address a higher degree of emotional and task uncertainty significantly different from a leader entering an established corporate culture.

Consequently the leader needs emotional intelligence and problem solving capacities. The success of leader’s problem solving capacity is influenced by the quality of the leaders emotional intelligence. What this conclusion asserts is that unless the emotional intelligence capacity of the social change leaders is developed first the problem solving capacity of a leader will be compromised.

The potential of failure appraisal event plays out differently within the profession of social change leaders. Leaders and consultants from internationally based NGOs and funding agencies have established ways of accessing resources to develop emotional intelligence and problem solving capacity building. Whereas the study will show that social change leaders in the field did not report accessing available institutional resources in the period of critical incidents. What they did report was accessing turning to their social networks to access resources. Given this high importance of self-reliance established professional and supportive networks are a necessity and not a convenience.

These conclusions are built on the critical incident interviews of eight social change organisation leaders who experienced one or more failure appraisal events in their first 36 month as a leader. It is described how they naturally developed an emotion resilient path resulting in increased emotional intelligence and facilitated problem solving capacity. Resilience is being defined as successful adaption to adversity (Handbook of adult resilience, p. 4). This development resulted in a new adapted capacity of engagement in their role as social change organisation leader.

From these results the author is able to outline emotional intelligence capacity building activities.


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