“Therefore keep watch . . .” – Matthew 24:42
Several years ago I participated in a weekend leadership retreat where one of the featured speakers was a high-level executive who attributed much of his leadership success to his previous career where he had served twenty years as an undercover detective for the Los Angeles Police Department. What I remember most vividly was his emphasis on being aware at all times of one’s surroundings. “Awareness of one’s surroundings is critical for a cop,” he said, “not only observing what physically exists around you but also analyzing the potential of what might occur. An example might be a group of children playing soccer in a park which creates the potential of the ball rolling into the street, thus the danger of a child chasing after it.” Having had such experience and training as a cop, he explained, had been crucial for him in his effectiveness as a corporate leader by making him more aware of others, not only their environment and surroundings, but also their feelings and emotions as they relate to the potential of things that might occur.
What that executive described aligns with what Daniel Goleman introduces in his highly acclaimed 1998 Harvard Business Review article, “What Makes a Leader?”, the concept of “emotional intelligence”. According to Goleman emotional intelligence “refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others.” Thus, according to the article, when emotional intelligence – the awareness of one’s own feelings and those of others – is consciously applied in leadership situations it can be a highly effective tool in guiding one’s decisions and actions.
I don’t know much about undercover police work except the fictional version I see on television. But I do know something about raising children which is similar in that we must remain vigilantly aware of our children’s surroundings, as well as their feelings and emotions, and carefully analyze the potential for what might occur in order to guard them from danger as well as form their minds and values. Goleman’s writings on emotional intelligence has precipitated a great deal of research in that area, most of which has supported that the most of effective leaders are those who measure high in emotional intelligence, much like the former cop turned executive. Jesus warned us of this as well. “Therefore keep watch,” he said, “because you do not know what day your Lord will come,” paying attention to the potential of what might occur.