Letter to the Editor: Emotional intelligence

Maria Scruggs

Dear Editor,

Leadership training in the 21st century has taken a much different turn in many public and private professional organizations.  Words such as high performing, skills, core competencies, result oriented and emotional intelligence are traits being sought out by progressive public and private sector organizations looking for effective leaders.

For example, Sarah Fletcher in an article on leadership development defined the term emotional intelligence as “the ability to understand and manage our emotions and those around us. This quality gives individuals a variety of skills, such as the ability to manage relationships, navigate social networks, influence and inspire others. Every individual possesses different levels, but in order for individuals to become effective leaders, they’ll need a high level of emotional intelligence.  In today’s workplace, it has become a highly important factor for success, influencing productivity, efficiency and team collaboration.”

One of the cornerstones Fletcher offer as the foundation for her definition is the need for effective leaders to have a very high sense of self-awareness, one of the five cornerstones she defines as the basis of emotional intelligence.

In numerous communications to Mayor Kriseman, while facing one of the most potentially tumultuous decisions within his first term in office, the selection of a police chief, in a couple of email communications, I strongly urged Mayor Kriseman not to concede to popularity contests, but rather identify consultants whom could assist him in defining the key skills and competencies needed by the person selected to manage the St. Petersburg Police Department.

While I would have no idea if my advice was ever considered, it was certainly my hope that emotional intelligence would have been one of those competencies or traits that would have emerged during the chief of police selection process.

Last week in a letter to the editor, Dr. Goliath Davis accused Mayor Kriseman of “punishing” St. Petersburg Housing Authority Board Member Ann Taylor for her “no vote” against the Carter G. Woodson Museum. While I have no inside information to verify the veracity of Dr. Davis’ claim, I do have concerns when the perception of one of the community leaders whom would have far more access that I, categorizes the mayor’s actions as punitive.

While I called on Mayor Kriseman to select a police chief based on skills and core competencies, I am now calling on the mayor to acknowledge right, wrong or different, there is a perception that his decision making could be clouded by petty retribution as opposed to thoughtful deliberation of the facts and decisions based on the best interest of the city and not individuals.

In a very contentious race, Mayor Kriseman beat out former Mayor Bill Foster hands down by commanding 56 percent of the vote.

Mayor Kriseman must not allow his legacy to be mired in perceptions of petty retaliatory actions, nor actions that appear to be responses to anything other than a well thought out and calculated responses to very complex social and economic issues. This may have been the very cause of the downfall of Mayor Kriseman’s predecessor.

Maria L. Scruggs

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