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Trumps tekort aan emotionele intelligentie

CAMBRIDGE – Vorige maand publiceerden vijftig voormalige nationale veiligheidsfunctionarissen, die op hoge posten hadden gediend in de Republikeinse regeringen van Richard Nixon tot George W. Bush, een brief, waarin zij zeiden niet op de presidentskandidaat van hun partij, Donald Trump, te zullen stemmen. In hun bewoordingen “moet een president gedisciplineerd zijn, zijn emoties in bedwang kunnen houden en pas handelend optreden nadat hij een zorgvuldige afweging heeft gemaakt.” Eenvoudig gezegd: “Trump mist het juiste temperament om president te kunnen zijn.”

In de terminologie van de moderne leiderschapstheorie ontbreekt het Trump aan emotionele intelligentie – zelfbeheersing en discipline, en het empathische vermogen dat leiders in staat stelt hun persoonlijke hartstochten in goede banen te leiden en aantrekkingskracht uit te oefenen op anderen. In tegenspraak met het idee dat gevoelens het denken in de weg zitten, duidt emotionele intelligentie – waartoe twee belangrijke componenten behoren, zelfbeheersing en het de hand uitsteken naar anderen – erop dat het vermogen om emoties te begrijpen en te reguleren het totale denken effectiever kan maken.

Hoewel het concept modern is, is het idee niet nieuw. Praktische mensen hebben lange tijd het belang ervan voor het leiderschap ingezien. In de jaren dertig bracht de vroegere Opperrechter Oliver Wendell Holmes, een humeurige oude veteraan uit de Amerikaanse Burgeroorlog, een bezoek aan Franklin D. Roosevelt, die eveneens aan Harvard had gestudeerd maar daar geen uitmuntende prestaties had geleverd. Later gevraagd naar zijn indruk van de nieuwe president sprak Holmes de beroemde woorden: “tweederangs intellect, eersteklas temperament.” De meeste historici zijn het er waarschijnlijk wel mee eens dat Roosevelts succes als leider eerder op zijn emotionele dan op zijn analytische IQ berustte.

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