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What Uber's CEO Needs is Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman

Originally published by Daniel Goleman on LinkedIn: What Uber's CEO Needs is Emotional Intelligence

“I need to grow up,” Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick said of the episode where he yelled at a bankrupt Uber driver. 

He doesn’t need to “grow up” – he needs more Emotional Intelligence. More precisely, he could benefit from three Emotional Intelligence abilities: Emotional Self-Awareness, Emotional Self-Control, and Empathy.

Self-awareness would mean he knows how his emotions are driving his actions. This self-awareness would be in-the-moment rather than much later, when, say, a video of his losing it goes viral on social media.

Self-awareness sits at the point where mindfulness meets Emotional Intelligence. In our research, self-awareness – the least visible of twelve Competencies crucial for Emotional Intelligence – turns out to be the most powerful. People high in Emotional Self-Awareness tend to have strengths in 10 of the 12 competencies, while those low in self-awareness show strengths in just one or two. That matters: the competencies predict business performance.

Emotional Self-Control means you can manage your distressing and unruly emotions rather than their managing you. You don’t respond with an angry outburst or putdown, but rather expand the gap between your feelings and your action. This gives you the time to come up with a more effective response.

Some call lengthening the gap between impulse and reaction a barometer of maturity - growing up. I call it Emotional Intelligence.

And empathy allows you to tune into how the other person thinks and feels, so that your response takes their perspective into account. That competence lubricates rapport and chemistry, the emotional resonance that makes your interactions more effective. Every leader needs empathy, which allows for “bulls-eye” communications, where you make your point in a way that hits home for that person.

After that blowup at an Uber driver was published by Bloomberg, Kalanick posted a blog, “A profound apology,” where he admitted he needed some help in leadership skills, and would seek it. 

 I’d recommend that help include a dose of Emotional Intelligence.

For more information on Emotional Intelligence, I recommend Crucial Competence, a new video series exploring the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies.