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The Coming Teen Decade - Leading Through Emotional Intelligence

Jeff Grenell
As we move closer to "The Teen Decade", beginning in 2013, I want to write about another thought on the best principle traits of leaders and our influence upon young people. Here are a few quick thoughts on a subject that is quickly rising in education. We have heard often about the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of leaders, but, one of the growing leadership traits is now EI (Emotional Intelligence). There are many things that make-up EI. The picture below is a beginning puzzle to the many facets of EI.




There is a lot of talk today about this topic and the idea of learning schools rather than teaching schools. A learning school is a place that has emerging models of student-based learning (the student-centered approach) and not simply emphasis upon classical teaching methods (a professor-centered approach). It may sound like a witty play on words. But, I can assure you that a classroom and instructor who is as passionate about the student and their context as they are the material, will see the learning in that course increase exponentially.


In the same way, as spiritual leaders for this next generation, we must get our students to think deeply about their faith and to develop thinking skills that can apply that faith to their world. Let me give you a quick EI test as a spiritual leader:
First, how well do you think of application when it comes to truth?
For most people, it is easy to think in theory. And theory is elementary to truth. But, without application, truth is literally just words and thoughts. Where truth becomes powerful is in application. Even the most technically proficient people will likely be passed over for that promotion if they can't work well in small groups or lead a meeting of fellow staff or communicate to shareholders what the company is all about. And, what we are finding in recent research, is that those who do manage to get ahead, likely possess emotional intelligence and not simply a high IQ. 
The true test of spiritual leaders is a measure of how well they can apply the knowledge base to real life settings. Or, how well they can regulate his or her own emotions, as well as the emotions of other people around them. Emotional intelligence rises above IQ because it values both the content of the message and material, as well as, the context of the message and the student. For example, as a youth pastor, how I communicate learned spiritual truth in my teens world makes me a better spiritual leader.
EI includes not only a knowledge base of the leader (which could include concepts, data, and systems), but, also, the relational base of the leader (which could include communication, culture, and leadership). 
Let me challenge all spiritual leaders of this generation to increase your Emotional Intelligence. Here are a few ways to do that:
-Develop empathy as much as you would develop expectations
-Use emotional control while trying to lead young people
-Spend as much time with teens as you do books
-Hang out with practitioners and with theorists
-Learn to tell stories about the truths you want to communicate to your teens.
As you look at the puzzle above in this blog, work to develop all of the areas of our intelligence. Whether our empathy or our motivational skills or classic information, we must use every area of our brain as a leader. Both the information areas and the relational areas. That will assure success as we lead this next generation.