Four Pillars of Leadership,

Pillar 2: Emotional Intelligence,

Organizational Awareness

In this week’s blog post, I continue the series on Pillar 2 of the 4 critical components of a leader, Emotional Intelligence, by looking at the 3rd component of Emotional Intelligence, Organizational Awareness.

Emotional Intelligence remains a key ingredient in the development of corporate leaders. More and more it’s becoming THE key component of what organizations demand in quality leadership. This week, we will look at the 3rd component of Emotional Intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman, Organizational Awareness.

Organizational Awareness is defined by the author of the original book on emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, as having the ability to read a group’s emotional currents and power relationships, as well as the ability to identify influences, networks, and overall dynamics within an organization.

While I will always argue that all aspects of emotional intelligence are critical to leadership success, I will state that, especially in law enforcement leadership, a leader’s ability to practice organizational awareness is perhaps THE one aspect that will determine long-term success as a law enforcement leader.

An emotionally intelligent leader who practices organizational awareness can do the following:

  • Make more informed decisions based on the tangible and intangible data. They know what the appetite for a decision is, who needs to be influenced, and why and how to influence them.
  • Develop a clear strategy to getting things done because they know the internal (and external) landscapes.  The emotionally intelligent leader can identify the right person or team for the right job at the right time.
  • Communicate in a way that resonates (and in a way that supercedes the “negative” influencers within the organization) by understanding the unwritten language and tone of their organization.
  • Build a coalition that gets things done. They have the ability to motivate others to work towards a shared goal.

Perhaps the best example of Organizational Awareness is the character “Radar” in the Emmy-Award-Winning-TV Series, M*A*S*H.  For those Millennials and iGens not familiar with the show, it is about a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War.  While much of the show centers on the real work and off-duty antics of the surgical staff, it is Radar that time and again proves to be the true “hub” of the wheel.

Radar was the company clerk and, by many standards, quite naive in the ways of the world, but he was the one character in the show that could make things happen. No matter what the need was (blood, medical supplies, jeeps, tents, etc.) it was Radar that possessed the organizational awareness and knowledge of how the Army supply chain worked to get what his unit needed.

We’ve all known a “Radar” who just gets things done.  While all components of Emotional Intelligence are critical to the long-term success of a leader, many who rise to the top possess Organizational Awareness. They see the players (positive and negative) and understand how to work them and the system more maximum impact. This doesn’t make them manipulative, but rather aware of the specific needs and wants of each group operating within the system.

Leaders who understand and master Organizational Awareness will find it most useful in navigating change within the organization, improving communication within and among their peers, superiors and colleagues and in making the right decisions regarding personnell placement. Using your understanding of how each piece works with the other in support of the organizational mission is key to making informed decisions.

When one considers Organizational Awareness as a law enforcement leader or the leader of any other organization, you must look outside the organization as well. What are the external as well as the internal pressures that impact your organization. As a Chief of Police for more than 17 years in two distinctly different organizations, I learned very quickly that it wasn’t just me that impacted my organization, but the local political climate, the media, and my superiors who were civilian appointed and elected officials. Understanding their impact and influence on me and my organization AND how best to navigate those was a key to my success and is the key to your success as a leader.

Next week we will finish up Pillar 2: Emotional Intelligence by discussing how Organizational Awareness becomes truly  effective by understanding how to Manage Relationships in the Organization.

Until then, keep the growth going by sharing this and our other posts on social media.  I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this post by seeing your comments on it. Please login to comment and, if you haven’t done so already, please sign up for free to comment on the blogs and podcasts. 




Self Awareness

In this blog we continue discussing the four pillars of leadership and there importance related to your performance as a leader.  Last week we discussed pillar two emotional intelligence ((EI) and outlined what it is. According to Daniel Goleman, the author of the seminal work on EI, It is “ the ability to manage ones self and the relationship with others.”  Over the next several blogs, we will examine the five key components of Emotional Intelligence beginning with Self Awarness today.   


What is self awareness?  Self Awareness is as simple as it sounds. You must be aware of how you are coming across to those that you lead and with whom you interact. Being aware that at all times you are being evaluated by others in a number of key areas:  appearance, mannerisms, attitude, mood, and confidence (just to name a few) is a major key to success as a professional. One thing that I always tell every leader that I work with on a individual basis, is that  you can not  – not communicate.  You are constantly communication something whether it is verbal or not.


As a young leader, I failed miserably at self awareness. Honestly I can remember having the attitude that it really didn’t matter how others saw me.  I was going to do what I thought was right and if they didn’t like it well it was their problem.  I was so wrong.  Because of my lack of self awareness and my inability to manage it, I missed a number of opportunities with employees that could have resulted in much better results.  Leaders must be aware of how others see them and their actions.  


Being aware that confidence is vital to every leader but arrogance is a killer. Leaders must make sure that the confidence they project is not misinterpreted as arrogance.  The difference between confidence and arrogance is razor thin. A arrogant leader has very few followers.  


Leaders must always be aware that their moods and attitudes affect employees in a huge way.  I often say that leaders are weather makers. With very little interaction, a leader can influence the weather (environment) of the office.  If a boss has a bad attitude, they can create constant disruption in the office environment and influence employee morale in a negative way that leads to dissatisfaction and job growth.  On the other hand, a positive attitude exhibited by the boss can create an environment of growth and satisfaction.  


Self awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence. Ask yourself. How can I change what I do as a leader to influence others in a more positive manner? If your like me, there are a dozen things I can think of right away.  Make a note of them and start making those changes to become more aware of your influence and how you can become a self aware leader.  


Next week we will discuss Emotional Intelligence component Self Mangement.  Until then Keep Sharing the Growth.  



“I often say that leaders are weather makers. With very little interaction, a leader can influence the weather (environment) of the office. “