by Patrick Verdonk
We need happier workplaces and we need emotionally intelligent leaders to help foster an environment where everyone feels motivated and engaged.
It’s been said that 90 percent of leadership success today is attributed to EQ — your emotional quotient — over IQ. And that’s because it’s our ability and responsibility as people and especially as leaders to not only strategize and develop businesses, but to connect with those around us. This is what ultimately yields the greatest results.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
The best explanation for EQ is taken from the godfather of emotional intelligence Daniel Goleman:
If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.Daniel Goleman
The model introduced by Goleman focuses on emotional intelligence as being the consolidation of a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. His model outlines these five main constructs:
- Self-awareness – The ability to know your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals, and to recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decision-making.
- Self-regulation – involves controlling or redirecting your disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
- Social skills – 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 achievement’s sake
For more details on the basis of EQ, read Goleman’s famous (albeit a bit older) piece “What Makes a Leader” from The Harvard Business Review.
Goleman goes onto include a set of emotional competencies within each construct. Emotional competencies are not innate talents, but rather learned capabilities that must be worked on and can be developed to achieve outstanding performance.
The impact of emotional intelligence on our professional success
Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 & president of TalentSmart EQ service company, writes that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, accounting for 58 percent of success in all types of jobs, when they tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills.They found that, of the majority Fortune 500 countries they work with, 90 percent of top performers have high EQ, while only 20 percent of bottom performers have high EQ.
Not feeling comfortable with your EQ skills? Edward Sullivan in “Emotional Intelligence for Entrepreneurs” shares some good news with us: Emotional Intelligence can be learned. At its core, EQ is simply a set of skills and habits and is totally trainable and learnable. The trouble is that we identify with our emotional intelligence as if it’s part of who we are. However, Emotional Intelligence isn’t so much about who you are, but how you choose to be. And if you choose to have a growth mindset and believe in your ability to learn new things, you can improve your emotional intelligence.
How much of an impact does emotional intelligence have on your professional success? The short answer is: A lot!
Your personal EQ Super Plan
Focus on your potential to improve on the EQ related skills of self-awareness and self-management.
The first two steps we’ll dive into self-awareness skills. These can be developed through:
- Meditation — Developing greater mindfulness helps you remain present and in your body, where emotions present themselves.
- Reminders to Check in with Yourself — Simply developing a habit of checking in with yourself before a meeting or a conversation can put you in a state of self awareness that can supercharge your effectiveness.
- Improve Your Emotional Vocabulary — There is a world of difference between being sad and being devastated. The more vibrance and depth you add to your own emotional vocabulary, the more able you are to be aware of what you are really feeling.
#1 Self Awareness for Self Control
Ask yourself how are you feeling? Do you know what’s going on inside of you? Name your emotions because if you can name your emotions you can control them. The more in control you are, the better you can manage yourself and ultimately those around you.
- Stop five times a day and ask yourself: What am I feeling? Name the emotion and then move on.
#2: Empathy leads to Empowerment
- Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. How many times a day are you assuming you know what someone else is thinking or wanting? Count how many times you find yourself making assumptions (not fact based or based on anything).
- Challenge yourself to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and relate to what they might be going through.
Step Three and Four will be about self-management skills, these can be developed through:
- Working on acceptance — Accepting what you are feeling and not simply bottling it up will help you develop an appropriate response to the situation.
- Knowing your go-to reactions — Knowing that you have a pattern response can help you improve your awareness and choose a different path in the future.
- Developing habits to bring you back to the moment — Breathing exercises and paying attention to changes in the sensations in your body can bring you back to now and clear some of the more overwhelming emotions.
#3: Listen to gain influence
Listen to people, take yourself out of the equation. Truly listen in meetings and ask follow-up questions — this active listening shows people that you care and in turn they’ll follow you and listen to you and you can have increased influence.
- Catch yourself in conversations and count how many times you’re veering off into your own head and your own thoughts.
- Ask 3-4 follow up questions in each conversation
#4: Communication and creating breathing room
When communicating, how in touch are you with your emotions? Are you able to stop yourself mid-sentence and recognize that you’re being defensive or angry? If you want to be a better communicator, you have to be able to name your emotion while it’s happening and take a step back to breathe if need be.
- When you find yourself in a hard conversation or any conversation, before answering, before deciding what to say… take a sip of water, go the bathroom, or just say, give me minute. Stop, take a breath and step back.
And the last step—
#5: Create your own EQ trick
Write down the exercises you want to experiment with from the previous steps, and add one last challenge to it. You may take some time to think this over during the weekend, but write it down and add it to your EQ Super Plan.
- Which of the five main constructs in Goleman’s model outlined earlier do you use most, or see most used by leaders in your company?
- Which one do you believe is most important to work on for you (or the leaders in your company) and why?
Following up on your plan will make you a more emotionally intelligent leader. It will help you to build happier workplaces. And by writing down your commitment, you’re more likely to make it happen!