How important is Emotional Intelligence in creating a strong personal brand according to Shakespeare?
The playwright is one of our go to experts on psychology and often tackles some of the key issues in leadership.
At Aspire, on our leadership courses, we often ask people to look into the future and write their own epitaph for their working life. It can be quite sobering to consider what people will say about you when you leave the room, retire, or move on.
So, what happens, for example, to Othello’s brand?
Personal Brand in Othello
In Shakespeare’s play, Othello, we see a respected general who is described as “valiant” and “noble” at the beginning of the play. By the end of the play he has lost control of his emotional core and through jealousy kills his wife and himself. Before he dies he asks only to be thought of without malice. His brand has become very different since he behaved “not wisely”.
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak
Of one that lov’d not wisely but too well;
Othello Act 5, scene 2, 340–346
In the same play, Othello’s friend Cassio gets into a drunken brawl and loses his position as Othello’s officer. He is left grieving the loss of his “reputation,” which, until this point, has been reflected in his exemplary military service and public behavior. Cassio feels that, without his “reputation” as an upstanding soldier, he’s nothing more than a “beast.”
Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have
lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
Iago, my reputation!
Othello act 2 scene 3
Strong Personal Brand – Accident or Choice?
We all create a personal brand as we go on our leadership journey.
It can be accidental – based on a series of impulsive emotional reactions driving our behaviours.
Or it can be based on our choice of a series of values we want to adhere to.
We can cultivate self awareness.
The more we know ourselves the more we can guard against unwise instinctive emotional reactions and instead choose our responses based on wisdom and experience. This takes a special kind of emotional discipline – self regulation.
Daniel Goleman focused on EI as a series of skills that drive leadership performance.
The five main constructs are:
Self-awareness – the ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
Self-regulation – involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
Social skill – managing relationships to move people in the desired direction
Empathy – considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions
Motivation – being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement
(for more details see “What Makes A Leader” by Daniel Goleman, best of Harvard Business Review 1998)
All these elements are important when it comes to leading and managing ourselves and others but self regulation is the key.
It’s relatively easy to hold a strong personal brand when we are not challenged but when the going gets tough it is the ability to self regulate, to control our emotions, that will keep us on track and true to who we want to be.
What’s your epitaph?
Through self-regulation we can start to live the epitaph we have written for ourselves. If you know how you want to be thought of at the end of your journey you can start to create that story now by choosing your behaviours accordingly.
So, as you are walking the dog, commuting to work, or contemplating life over a cup of tea it might be worth spending some time considering what you would like people to say about you when the time comes.