The need for emotional intelligence training in higher education : an exploratory study

Groenewald, Anna Margaretha (2003-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Leadership, over the years, has changed due to the rise of new technology, globalisation of markets and increased shareholders' tempo. Leaders are expected to accomplish projectsfaster and with fewer resources. Therefore, to be able to respondto these rapid changes in organisations and the market place, leaders are faced with the challenge of changingthe way people work together. The typical ways of relatingto one another seem more ineffective with each changing day. Organisationsshould therefore face the fact that, today, the quality of relationships is as importantto business success as the quality of products and services produced. Working with people involves some degree of skills in the realm of feeling, along with whatever cognitive elements are at play. This process stands in sharp contrast to purely cognitive competencies, which a computer can be programmed to execute about as well as a person can do it. Emotional intelligence skills, however, are synergistic with cognitive ones, and star performers will have both. The new measure that organisations make use of and take for granted, is that employees will have enough intellectual ability and technical know-how to get the job done. Their focus has moved to personal qualities such as initiative, empathy, adaptability and persuasiveness. It has been found that corporations that seek to employ MBA graduates are looking for capabilities such as communication skills, interpersonal skills and initiative when employing. Research supports the claim that Emotional Intelligence is a form of intelligence, in that it encompasses a set of skills which are coherent and can be measured. Emotional intelligence competencies, such as persuasion, motivation, focus and leadership, can be acquired or learnt. Emotional intelligence should further be seen as an acquired skill that can enhance intellectual performance. Emotional intelligence management therefore gives individuals the opportunity to further their knowledge of people. Emotional intelligence training is mostly about behavioural change: through repeated experiences, people's minds are programmed to react in a certain way when faced with feared encounters or stressors. Old mind patterns keep forcing people to revert to using preset reactions, even though this may be unintentional. Emotional intelligence training will therefore take time and commitmentfrom both the student's and the lecturer's perspectives. Most higher education programs, however, do not focus on emotional intelligence training as part of their curricula, and therefore a serious void exists in terms of essential skills required for success in the workplace, used for piloting their careers and for leadership. Even though more statistical research needs to be done to prove the relative significance of emotional competencies as compared to cognitive abilities, analyses indicates that emotional intelligence translates into hard results within the workplace. For example, sales people can create better and more trusting relationships with clients, customer care representatives can handle customers more effectively, and engineers are able to not only deal with the technical skills required by their positions, but are able to relate to co-workers in a more constructive manner. Taking into consideration that researchers within the field of emotional intelligence believe that emotional intelligence is a more reliable predictor of success in the workplace, it would therefore make sense to start including emotional intelligence training in higher education programs.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Leierskap het oor die jare verander, as gevolg van faktore soos vooruitgang in tegnologie, globalisering van markte en versterkte druk van aandeelhouers. Daar word verder verwag van leiers om projekte te realiseer met minder hulpbronne en in korter periodes. Ten einde opgewasse te wees teen hierdie veranderinge, word leiers inherent gekonfronteer met die uitdaging om die manier waarop mense in groepe saamwerk te verander, omrede die bestaande wyses waarop mense met mekaar betrokke is, meer en meer as oneffektief bestempel word. Dit is 'n realiteit dat die kwaliteit van hedendaagse werksverhoudinge net so belangrik tot 'n suksesvolle besigheid is, as die produkte en dienste gelewer. Wanneer daar met mense omgegaan word, behels dit beide 'n gevoels- en kognitiewe element. Hierdie proses is in direkte kontras met suiwer kognitiewe vaardigheid, wat net soveel 'n kwaliteit van 'n rekenaar as die van 'n mens is. Emosionele intelligensie is egter in sinergie met kognitiewe intelligensie, en uitblinkers besit beide kwaliteite. Die nuwe maatstaf wat deur organisasies gebruik word gaan van die veronderstelling uit dat werknemers voldoende tegniese vaardigheid besit om die taak na wense te verrig. Daar is klaarblyklik 'n fokusverskuiwing wat homself meer leen tot kwaliteite soos inisiatief, empatie, aanpasbaarheid en oorredingsvermoë. Daar is verder bevind dat besighede wat MBA gegradueerdes wil aanstel, meerendeels op die uitkyk is vir individue met kommunikasievaardighede, interpersoonlike behendigheid en inisiatief. Navorsing is dit verder eens dat emosionele intelligensie 'n daadwerklike vorm van intelligensie is, gesiene dat dit gemeet kan word en dat dit bestaan uit 'n stel samehangende vaardighede. Emosionele intelligensie vaardighede, soos oorreding, motivering, fokus en leierskap, kan verder aangeleer word. Dit behoort dus gesien te word as 'n verworwe vaardigheid wat 'n persoon se intellektuele kapasiteit versterk. Die bestuur van emosionele intelligensie skep ook die moontlikheid van verdere geesteswetenskaplike studie, en opleiding in emosionele intelligensie omvat meerendeels gedragsverandering. Deur herhaalde blootstelling word die brein geprogrammeer om op spesifieke maniere te reageer wanneer vrese gekonfronteer word. Selfs al word daar gepoog om anders te reageer, word daar teruggeval op ingebedde gedragspatrone. Opleiding in emosionele intelligensie neem dus tyd en toewyding van beide die dosent en sy student. Die meeste tersiêre opvoedingsprogramme fokus egter nie op emosionele intelligensie as deel van die kurrikulum nie, en daar is dus 'n ernstige leemte in die voorbereiding van studente betreffende voldoende vermoëns wat deur leierskap in 'n beroep vereis word. Alhoewel verdere statistiese navorsing benodig word om die relatiewe belangrikheid van emosionele behendigheid teenoor kognitiewe vaardigheid te bepaal, is daar indikasies dat emosionele intelligensie wel bepalend kan wees in die werksomgewing. Verkoopspersoneel kan byvoorbeeld sterker en meer vertrouenswaardige verhoudings bewerkstellig met kliënte, kliëntedienste kan meer effektief hanteer word en ingenieurs kan bemagtig word om in meer as slegs die tegniese aspekte van hulle werk met medewerkers om te gaan. In ag genome dat menige navorsers dit eens is dat emosionele intelligensie 'n getroue voorspeller van sukses is, maak dit dus sin om opleiding in emosionele intelligensie in tersiêre opleidingsprogramme te vervat.

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