Emotional intelligence

Nonprofit hiring process should measure emotional intelligence.

By Heather Lee and Korrel Kanoy

[07.19.04] — What if you spent six months searching for the right executive?

What if that executive quickly proved to be a disaster and your financial loss for that hire was over $20,000?

Imaginary? No, true story.

The organization conducted an exhaustive search, interviewed several highly qualified candidates, completed intensive background checks, and still got the wrong person.

Besides the financial loss, the poor hiring decision created lower morale and a leadership gap.

What went wrong?

The board and staff selected for analytical ability, intelligence, budget experience and prior success, but they ignored a characteristic that accounts for greater than 50 percent of an individual’s success — emotional intelligence.

Daniel Goleman, one of the foremost experts in emotional intelligence, describes it in four dimensions:

* “Self-awareness” involves awareness of your emotions, accurate self-assessment and self-confidence.

* “Self-management”: includes emotional self-control, adaptability, and motivation.

* “Social awareness” involves empathy, organizational awareness and a service orientation.

* “Relationship-management” includes inspiration, conflict management, and teamwork.

Nonprofits must add emotional intelligence to the selection process.

A technical expert with low emotional intelligence will always perform worse in a leadership position than a technically adequate person with high emotional intelligence.

A high emotional-intelligence executive will maximize your people resources and create better organizational performance.

Research shows that for every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there is a 2 percent increase in “profit.”

To avoid costly hiring mistakes, design your hiring process to measure emotional intelligence.

Ask behavioral emotional-intelligence questions in addition to questions about budgeting, board relations, and fundraising.

Assess written, presentation, and interpersonal skills with emotional-intelligence components included.

Some sample emotional-intelligence questions:

* Describe a time when you were managing a team that was unable to arrive at a creative solution to a problem. What did you do? (This addresses social-awareness and relationship-management.)

* Assume you are confronted by an unhappy donor upset with the organization and threatening to discontinue payments on a pledge. What would you do?” (This addresses self-management and relationship-management.)

* Tell me about a time when you were least effective or most frustrated dealing with a conflict with a co-worker.” (This addresses self-management and relationship-management).

If you include emotional intelligence in your selection process, you will make better decisions.


Heather Lee and Korrel Kanoy are professors at Peace College and consult in the nonprofit and public sectors. They will present a workshop on Selecting for Emotional Intelligence at August meeting of the Triangle chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals August. Lee also is affiliated faculty member with the Institute for Nonprofits at North Carolina State University.

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.