Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Edoardo Binda Zane about his career in communication, what inspired him to write a book, and the creative process that went into writing Emotional Intelligence For Leaders.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a leadership and communication consultant, based in Berlin and working across several countries. I actually started as a consultant on public policy, spent a few years in the trenches and then realized it wasn’t the right path for me, so a few years later I made the switch to pursuing my own career and never looked back.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I’ve written three books, but actually the first time I really had a burning need to write was only this last one. In hindsight, the previous ones are mostly a collection of knowledge that I had already built, so it was relatively immediate to put it down on paper. This last one was different – it’s about Emotional Intelligence for Leaders, which is an area I’ve developed and built while training others and that I do believe can cause a massive impact in managers and new managers especially. To get back to the question then, I’ve wanted to write a book for the first time when I noticed that I had developed something that could be of real impact for others.
When did you take a step to start writing?
Writing has always been a big part of my work. Having ben a consultant, writing reports was part of my daily job. It taught me to structure my thoughts, to develop a text, to be clear. From then, transitioning to writing a non-fiction book was quite immediate.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
I would say about three months. Given the fact that it was all content I already had, it was merely a matter of putting it in written form. Had I started with a different topic that I did not have at hand, things would have probably been different.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
All together I’d say about six months. My latest book is heavily research based, but at the same time I wanted to give it a practical and applicable angle. This meant not only writing up results of my research, but coming up with ideas, exercises, templates that readers could use right out of the box. Take the Emotional Intelligence Test for Leaders I’ve made available on my site in connection to the book for example.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Emotional Intelligence For Leaders?
I was lucky enough to enter consulting at a fairly high level, i.e. working with the European Commission as main client. That allowed me to take a look at what you don’t see from the outside, what you only see if you’re in the trenches doing the work. What I’ve noticed is that there were extremely competent people, professionals with deep knowledge of their methods, structures and sectors that I could learn from at every step. What I also noticed though is that there was an almost complete and utter lack of emotional intelligence and any associated soft skill – and that even by doing some basic work on myself I could heavily outperform them in terms of key areas like persuasion, negotiation, public speaking, communication…
That gave me evidence that there was more to work than mere technical execution, it was one of the aspects that prompted me to change career and that then I wanted to share with others via a book.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Emotional Intelligence For Leaders?
Making it not just relevant but applicable. Most non-fiction books have to do with theoretical explanations of valid content, but I wanted a different approach. I didn’t want to just talk about the “what” and “why” of emotional intelligence, I wanted to focus on the “how”: what steps to take, in what order, how to assess your progress.
That’s where most of my energy went in the end!
What was your research process for Emotional Intelligence For Leaders?
90% of the sources I used were scientific papers. I wanted to go straight to the source and not simply repeat what other authors had already researched. I guess it would have been faster if I relied on other non-scientific books, but it would not have been as accurate or valid.
How did you plan the structure of Emotional Intelligence For Leaders?
The only exception I’ve made to using only scientific papers was the original Emotional Intelligence book (Goleman). In that book the author outlines a few areas of Emotional Intelligence – I’ve taken those areas and used them as a basic structure of the book’s main content, the rest came almost automatically.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Emotional Intelligence For Leaders need?
No, I did everything by myself. It needed a few re-reads, separated by a few weeks of not looking at the text. All together I was done after the fourth one and was able to finalize the book quite rapidly.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Build your structure first. Start from a few bullet points and little by little expand on them, until in the end you’d have enough of a guideline to start turning it into text.
What you don’t want to end up with is realizing that some passage in the text doesn’t fit, is not really coherent with your message and you need to re-write a whole chapter or even worse change the whole book structure. It will cost time and energy, and you could save both if you work on the structure first, even if it takes much longer than you had anticipated.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Happily! My next one is going to be about Creative Leadership – i.e. how to have the confidence to generate valid ideas on command and how to enable your team to do the same. I have a structure ready and I’m planning to write it all up in 2022.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am insanely proud of my effort and accomplishment. Knowing the work that I’ve put in it and seeing it being actually appreciated by readers is the best possible reward I could have hoped for!