Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman wrote a book a few years back entitled, Emotional Intelligence. It is a fascinating title, and a book I had good intentions about reading but never got around to. But that will not keep me from stealing the title for this blog.

I am not sure what traits Goleman includes in his book. But two that are high on my list are self-awareness and the ability to listen to others. The emotionally intelligent person knows what they know and what they do not know, and they cultivate the fine art of listening to advice.

A while back we were talking to a colleague at another company about a particularly unsuccessful campaign. In this case unsuccessful meant the church failed to raise even one times their annual giving and received less than 50% of the amount pledged. By any measurement, that is a bad campaign. Really bad. “Why did you even bother” bad.

The problem? The Senior Pastor. He would not listen to the advice of his consultants.  He micromanaged, making even the minutest of decisions. He changed the plans agreed upon. He did what he wanted to and ignored anything he did not want to do.

He thought he knew more than the consultant. Which of course begs the question, “Why did he hire them in the first place?”

How much do you want to bet that if you polled this pastor, he would still be unaware of his culpability in the failed campaign?

Obviously there is an application in my world of capital campaigns. If you are going to hire someone, you need to listen to them. A few months ago a church leader and I were discussing the wrap up of their campaign. They had chosen to not follow one of our recommendations. It was not a life and death matter, but there were unforeseen problems as a result of their decision. The leader laughed and said, “If you need us to tell other churches to do it the way you recommend, just have them give us a call.”

But I am thinking about other areas of our lives as well. Where are we refusing to listen?

  • Our spouse tells us the truth, and we ignore because, well, who knows why we ignore?
  • We dismiss the perspective of younger people, including our children, because after all, what do they know?
  • A co-worker offers a suggestion, and we stifle their input out of fear or resentment.
  • We don’t listen to our aging parents because we know what is best.

I am thinking about that Senior Pastor heading into a second campaign. Is he going to learn any lessons from his failure? Will he even recognize that he, not the consultant or the staff, but he, he is the one who failed. Will he learn to listen?

Will we?