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Beyond our biological makeup, it may seem like the leaders of today have nothing in common with cavemen. But, in reality, emotional intelligence has been a key aspect of mankind ever since there were more than two people on earth. Hundreds of years ago, the workplace looked a little different. Instead of sitting behind a desk, cavemen entered the jungle to hunt for their families and communities. Problems in the workplace were a little different as well. Caveman had to face actual lions (instead of the more metaphorical ones we deal with now).

When a caveman faced a problem like this, he wasn’t analytic. He didn’t ask himself what kind of lion it was or whether it was male or female. Instead, he survived by using his instincts, his emotions. The caveman used the lower parts of the brain, including the limbic system and hippocampus, to realize he needed to get out of the situation as fast as possible. If he had been analytical, he’d have been lunch.

Overtime, the balance of analytics and emotions in the workplace shifted. People began seeing emotions as a weakness. Great leaders were those who were completely logical. You clocked in, did your job without asking questions or being encouraged to speak your mind, and then clocked out. There was no room for frivolousness like emotion. Leaders made the mistake of valuing efficiency over impact. They looked at the bottom line and tried to figure out what logically could move it forward. They battled their lions with logic, instead of instinct.

Fortunately, over the past hundred years that balance has begun to shift back. We’ve entered the age of innovation where the only way to get ahead is to think differently. If you’re not an industry disrupter, you’re probably getting disrupted.

This shift can be seen in the TV we watch. When Star Trek was originally developed, Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) was written as a walking textbook on legs. According to his biography, it was actually Shatner who changed the character to be more emotional. He knew intuitively that the captain of a ship isn’t the smartest, but instead a man with very human emotions. He surrounds himself with the most intelligent people, weighs all of their knowledge and then uses his feels to make the best decision.

Whether you’re the leader of the Starship Enterprise or a more earthly workplace, emotions are vital to the workplace. Great leaders surround themselves with the smartest people, rather than claiming to be the smartest person in the room. They use emotion to evaluate the data presented. It’s not what they know, but how well they can use the knowledge of those around them to make decisions.

By Dr Steven J. Stein for Huffington Post (Source Link)