Executive Directors:  You Can Rely On Emotional Intelligence!

As a responsible (i.e. harried…) leader of a nonprofit organization, it’s time you learned to cultivate your emotional intelligence!  In so doing, you will impact the performance of staff  volunteers and even subscribing public members by managing them to the best of YOUR abilities.

Emotional Intelligence Emotional Quota graphic ice berg






  • What is Emotional Intelligence?

In decades past, someone’s intelligence was measured in just one way:  An IQ test that explored the person’s ability to comprehend and then exercise logic. High IQs were the benchmark for success and achievement in the business, nonprofit, and academic worlds.  Then, in the 1980s, people began paying attention to theories about multiple intelligences. Scientists have delineated several types, such as logical, creative, existential, kinesthetic, and several others, including both interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.

In 1995, California psychologist Daniel Goleman elaborated on this theme in his book about the necessity of social and empathic collaborations.   Emotional intelligence extends beyond how we conduct our everyday lives:  Nonprofit executive directors can rely on and cultivate their own emotional intelligence in order to lead and counsel their staff, volunteers, and members effectively.

  • Emotional Intelligence Model

Goleman described four main quadrants of emotional intelligence:

  1. Awareness of self – ability to recognize one’s own level of emotional involvement and how it affects performance.
  2. Management of self  – ability to manage and control emotions towards improved performance
  3. Awareness of social influence – ability to recognize that other people are affected by emotions.
  4. Management of relationships –  ability to inspire people to achieve through comprehension of social behaviors.

However, many nonprofit executive directors believe that focus and task orientation are the primary requirements for performance excellence. Emotions and emotional intelligence are secondary considerations, if they are considered at all.  Many E.D.’s insist that there is no room for emotion in the organization and that people should leave their hearts at home.

  • Empathy:  The Prime Directive

Empathy is the ability to reference your own experiences and emotions to better understand the experiences and emotions of others.  As leader of your nonprofit organization, you can use your own empathy to help staff realize the extent emotions play in individual and organizational success.  Empathy is the prime directive because, literally, it can’t fail.  There is always room for deeper empathy, deeper understanding, and the correlating positive results.

  • Expressing or Developing Empathy

When someone in the organization is struggling, the E.D. has the opportunity to become an expert, active listener.  When fielding a complaint, phrases such as “I see” or “I understand.” are important reassurances, even while not actually making a commitment. Then, you can follow up with open-ended questions such as:

  • What makes you say that?
  • Can you give me an example of that?
  • Can you explain why you feel that way?
  • How do you wish things had gone?
  • Can you tell me more?
  • How could things have ended differently?

Again, as leader, you can absolutely rely on an empathetic approach to foster more willingness to work towards mutually beneficial solutions. And isn’t’ that what we really want?

What the heck is

HAPPENING out there?

  • Good business decisions restore ecological, social and financial integrity
  • Bad business decisions kill potential for a healthy future 
  • Excellent nonprofits are the most powerful lever for creating a healthy future
Solution:  Bring in The Meeting Guy

My facilitation creates SAFETY.   Together we’ll address challenges and create committed actions leading to an emotionally healthy community of high performers aligned with your organization’s mission. Excellent nonprofits have outrageous missions!   Your mission can thrive now and into the future… as long as you foster ambitious action from everybody in your organization.My professional purpose is to support YOU to do that.  

Go ahead, give it a try….