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What did 12 leaders say was the most valuable focus area in a robust leadership development program?

I just wrapped up facilitating a leadership program pilot for a client, whose participants were a hand-selected group of top-performing managers.

Post-program, we surveyed the participants on their experience. They were asked to rate the value of each topic in helping to develop their leadership skills.

They considered all of it valuable and worth their time.

But what was considered the MOST valuable topic?

  • Not strategic thinking.
  • Not leading with vision.
  • Not leading through change.
  • Not the table-stakes managerial skills of delegating, managing performance, and goal-setting.
The Most Valuable Topic In A Leadership Program | Cynthia Farrell | 110 West Group

So what was the topic they unanimously said was the most valuable, and where they wanted to spend more time?

Survey says ……

Emotional intelligence.

I was (pleasantly) surprised.

The importance of EQ in leadership and business performance is well-known and understood. I often quote the HBR study finding that 90% of top performers have high EQ.

And developing EQ is foundational work with the executives I coach and the leadership teams I work with.

Yet with all of those other critical topics in the program, I’m curious as to why this was considered the most valuable, and one where they want to spend more time and learn more. (And yes, I can ask them directly.)

My speculation: leaders are being told they need to have high EQ, but aren’t given support as to HOW to develop it.

So when they’re provided with that support, and tangible techniques to build EQ, it’s like finding an oasis in the desert. They drink it all in and they want more.

That’s my speculation.

But what do you think? Why do you think a group of high-performing leaders would say EQ was the most valuable topic in the program?


PS–If you’re looking to develop your EQ and be in that HBR 90%, reach out, and let’s talk about how I can support you on that journey through executive coaching.

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