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Surprising Science

Wanted: Emotional Leaders

Changing social and battlefield landscapes require a new kind of soldier, says retired Navy officer Dr. Amy Fraher. Emotional intelligence must supplement technical knowledge.

What’s the Latest Development?

Today, America’s armed forces and the battles it fights are vastly different than in the past. Military leadership now requires emotional intelligence as well as technical prowess, says retired Navy commander Dr. Amy Fraher. The introduction of women and homosexuals into the ranks, as well as the changing nature of conflict where soldiers must cooperate with foreign populations, often tribes, means self control and cultural sensitivity should be prioritized during a soldier’s training.

What’s the Big Idea?

Dr. Fraher points to Daniel Goleman’s seminal Emotional Intelligence to show that intellectual abilities are not everything. She also refers to Malcom Gladwell’s Blink which discusses a subconscious ability to navigate and solve difficult problems. Having strong emotional skills is crucial to making decisions in high-stress situations, to allow the mind to execute its technical knowledge without falling prey to fear and anxiety. Fraher says emotional intelligence should become part of a practical training program. In other words, it can be taught.

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