Leadership, emotional intelligence and resilience

by | Jul 1, 2016 | Business and Marketing

PwCWorldwide leaders have to keep up with constant change and the wine industry is no exception.

Rapid, disruptive change is normal in today’s world. In the wine industry this means keeping up with changing environmental and market demands, more complex supply chain operations, increased competition and obtaining and retaining equity candidates in scarce jobs.

To cope with these disruptive changes, leaders in South Africa’s wine industry need to be agile and resilient. Of particular importance when leading in a complex, multicultural environment, is being attuned to other people’s emotions and showing empathy. This environment requires emotionally intelligent leaders who are able to help others move forward to achieve success while absorbing and dealing with complex change.

The SA wine industry’s vision is to be an industry and employer of choice for new entrants into the workplace. PwC’s Agribusiness Insights Survey 2014/15 revealed that managing the people dynamics in an agribusiness is essential to attracting and retaining employees. It comes as no surprise then that studies show there’s a strong link between emotionally intelligent leadership and employee engagement.

In this article, we look at why emotional intelligence (EQ) is such an important leadership requirement in the wine industry – and how you, as a leader, can improve your EQ.

In his 1998 Harvard Business Review (HBR) study on emotional intelligence, internationally renowned psychologist, Daniel Goleman, found that emotional intelligence contributes 80 to 90% of the competencies that distinguish outstanding leaders from average ones.

Goleman describes five competencies of emotional intelligence that are important for any leader:

SELF-AWARENESS: The ability to recognise your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values and drivers and being aware of how these may affect those around you.

SELF-REGULATION: The ability to suspend judgment and think before acting. It’s all about staying in control.

INTERNAL MOTIVATION: A passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond money and status and the propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.

EMPATHY: The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, listen and understand their emotional make-up and portray cross-cultural sensitivity.

SOCIAL SKILLS: The ability to communicate effectively and build relationships and a rapport with others. It also involves the ability to lead change and resolve conflict diplomatically.

In a further HBR study in 2000, Goleman outlined six distinct leadership styles, each one originating from various components of emotional intelligence. These styles are familiar to anyone who leads, is led, or, as with most of us, does both:

  • The pacesetting leader expects and models excellence and self-direction (“Do as I do, now”).
  • The authoritative leader mobilises people towards a vision (“Come with me”).
  • The affiliative leader creates emotional bonds and develops a sense of belonging (“People come first”).
  • The democratic leader builds consensus through participation (“What do you think?”).
  • The coaching leader develops people for the future (“Try this”).
  • The coercive leader demands immediate compliance (“Do what I tell you”).

Research shows leaders who get the best results don’t rely on just one leadership style but have the flexibility to switch between styles as the situation requires.

When considering the development and preparation of future leaders for South Africa’s wine industry, it’s important to note what makes a great leader. Leadership expert Roselinde Torres says there are three elements great leaders need when preparing for the realities of today and the uncomfortable unknowns of tomorrow.

Firstly, great leaders don’t work with their heads down – rather they see around corners. They anticipate, shaping their future, not just reacting to it. Secondly, they have diverse personal and professional networks and a capacity to develop relationships with people who are different to themselves. They understand that having a diverse network is a source of solutions. Thirdly, great leaders dare to be different and take risks. They’re courageous enough to abandon the past and their comfort zone.

A 2002 HBR study of leadership studies identified authenticity as the top leadership success factor, followed by vulnerability, intuitive thinking and decision-making skills.

While there are various leadership styles and every leader develops their own authentic way of leading, it’s clear that emotional intelligence is the critical must-have for effective leadership. The only way to develop and strengthen these emotional intelligence competencies is to practice them daily. By viewing yourself as a “work in progress” and evolving your professional identity through trial and error, you can develop a personal style that feels right and suits your environment’s changing needs.

Finally, by developing the skill to manage your emotions, you become a better leader with the resilience to quickly bounce back from circumstances where you’ve been stretched beyond your limit.

Leaders in the wine industry all face the question whether they are effective leaders. This question is equally important for directors, CEOs, CFOs, production managers, winemakers or anyone else in a leadership role.

If you want to improve your emotional intelligence and become a more effective leader we suggest the following practical steps:

  • Implement a 360-degree leadership assessment to learn about your strengths and weaknesses, and implement practical development goals arising from the assessment.
  • Grow your own self-awareness and the selfawareness of your leadership team.
  • Explore the benefits of embarking on an executive coaching programme for yourself and your organisation.
  • Ensure that leaders in your organisation have access to ongoing EQ and leadership development opportunities.


PwC Agribusiness Insights Survey 2014/15.

Daniel Goleman (2000). Harvard Business Review: Leadership that gets results.

Daniel Goleman (2009). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.

Joanne Reid (2008). Ivey Business Journal. The resilient leader: Why EQ Matters.

Roselinde Torres (2014). Ted Talks: What it takes to be a great leader.

*Caroline Smit is a senior associate in the People and Organisation Competency in the advisory area of PwC. For more information email her at caroline.smit@za.pwc.com or call 021 529 2496 or email Crispin Swart at crispin.swart@za.pwc.com or call 021 529 2137.

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