Mary-Louise Angoujard, chief executive of the training organisation Rapporta Limited, who teaches emotional intelligence to a range of companies from McDonald’s to accountancy and law firms, says her experience shows that the workplace is crying out for more emotionally intelligent leaders. “The people we deal with often have no idea about the need for self-awareness, or the need to be able to regulate yourself, and motivate others – but you can’t lead people if you can’t understand them.”
Among the skills she teaches are how to be clear about your own vision and beliefs, manage your emotions, shed defensive behaviours and develop good body language. She claims they can be acquired within two months. “On an MBA programme, you are taught a lot of theory and then the practical applications of that theory, so I would have thought it could be the same process with emotional intelligence: you encourage people to apply tools and techniques and to analyse situations from an emotionally intelligent viewpoint.”
Meanwhile, in the United States and elsewhere, a number of business schools are starting to examine questions of spiritual intelligence, and how deep-seated morals and beliefs can shape business performance. Driven originally by Christian groups, the practice is now spreading to a wider audience.
“One or two people are looking into it here,” says Scott Taylor, senior lecturer in leadership studies at the University of Exeter Business School, who is researching the area, “although business schools generally are not doing anything about it.
“When things are bad, people tend to want to reflect on life for a time; then when things pick up, they go back to making money, and the MBA has always pushed students towards a particular way of rational and instrumentalist thinking. But there is increased questioning about whether we can go on turning out people, as someone put it, ‘with lop-sided brains and icy hearts’, so my hope is we will see more debate around all these issues.”