You may have heard about a new trending term for the past couple of years abbreviated as EQ. My first experience with it came through a job posting as “EQ.” Emotional intelligence or EQ is vitally important in our culture and is a big factor in relationship building and maintenance today. It can help you at work, in your personal life, and when interacting with other people. But what is emotional intelligence? How does it differ from the more familiar IQ test? And how do you measure someone’s ability to lead with EQ? We’ll explore what emotional intelligence means and why it matters for leaders today.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It’s not a skill you’re born with; it’s something that can be learned through practice and experience. I had really started to become fascinated with EQ in Recruiting, as I felt it was a great way to relate and connect with people and clients on a deeper level. The more I researched, the more I learned EQ is important in all areas of life, not just work. I learned through interactions and through Consulting you could have a high IQ but low EQ – for example, you might be able to solve complex problems quickly but struggle when others are upset with you or need help dealing with their feelings.
Conversely, someone else might have a lower IQ but high EQ – they might not be able to solve advanced problems but are good at calming down frustrated colleagues, or customers on the phone because they know how hard people work and how frustrating it can be when things go wrong. But is emotional intelligence a teachable trait? How can you lead with it? Let’s start with the basics –
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage emotions in yourself and others. It’s different from IQ, which is a fixed number that you’re born with. EQ is not a fixed number; it can be improved with practice and experience. THIS is what fascinated me. The more you learn, the higher you could level up as a leader. In my understanding, Emotional intelligence involves four key areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Each area a person could focus on for years and never master in my opinion! Emotional intelligence is about understanding how your own emotions affect the way you think about things or behave towards other people – whether it’s anger spilling over into an argument with your partner or feeling too stressed out to focus on tasks at work because there are too many deadlines looming ( or a slew of other things people face on a daily basis, especially these days ).
Why should we care about EQ?
EQ is important because it helps you build relationships and be more successful in interacting with people. I like to think of EQ as tools in a leadership toolbelt that help in all kinds of situations. People ( especially leaders in business ) with high EQ can drive success in ways others cannot. EQ can drive motivation, increase productivity and absolutely helps morale and tenure in a team and company. Statistically, people with high EQ are more likely to be promoted, liked by their team and boss, and have an overall better work experience. It’s also been shown that people with higher emotional intelligence earn 20% more than those without it! I challenge you to think of your recent experiences in your roles where someone had high EQ. Think of the environment, the team, the culture. People with high EQ influence, instill passion, innovate and drive teams forward for good. Now think of a situation in your career where you experienced leadership with low EQ. What were the differences? How did they make you feel? In my experiences, leadership teams that possess low EQ qualities influence many other negative factors including toxic work places, stressful environments and ultimately burnout in teams. And the worst part? It is all preventable through awareness and training.
How do you measure a person’s emotional intelligence?
There are many ways to measure EQ, I have seen an influx in companies utilizing Psychological tests through accredited institutions. Some of the most popular for organizations include: The Emotional Competency Inventory ( ECI ) is a self-scoring questionnaire that measures emotional intelligence in four key areas: self-awareness, empathy, adaptability and conflict management. Another is The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), a more comprehensive assessment that includes all of these elements as well as others like dependability and tolerance for stress.
You may also want to consider taking an online course on EQ if you’re interested in learning more about how it works from an academic perspective before taking any assessments yourself. Personally, in my search for EQ knowledge, my first step was discovering more about myself. In my rabbit hole research, I stumbled across 16personalities.com. This was the first crack in the ceiling that led me to break through to another level. As the website states through its homepage, “Only 10 minutes to get a “freakishly accurate” description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.” I cannot emphasize the freakishly accurate statement, as I felt I had never had a more accurate description of myself before. Alongside 16 Personalities, there are thousands of resources and articles discussing EQ and its’ importance in your everyday life.
Do leaders need to be emotionally intelligent?
It is a no-brainer for me, the more I read and research, the more I learn about the importance of empathy and EQ in leadership. Again, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. As defined, it’s a core competency for leaders because they have to manage so many different types of people at once–their employees, their clients, their customers, their stakeholders – and it’s almost impossible to do that if you don’t know how people are feeling or why they’re feeling that way. Here’s a popular use case I come across frequently as a Consultant – You’re meeting with an important client who wants your company’s services but they aren’t sure whether they should sign on with you yet because they feel like there might be other options out there that are better suited for their needs than yours (even though there aren’t). Sound familiar? It’s a classic example if you are a Freelancer, agency or can even be applied to an individual contributor applying for a role. If the leader has high EQ levels and knows how best communicate their feelings in this situation (i.e., by saying something like “I’m excited about working together but also cautious”), then there will be little resistance closing this deal; however if they have low EQ levels then things could go south quickly when things start getting heated between both parties during negotiations over terms like price points/payment schedules etc…On the other side, you are the one offering the service, if you have high EQ levels, you can sense and pick up the hesitation of the other parties and can work to reduce the uncertainty through empathy and examples of your work that relate to the issues of the other party.
What are the most important components of emotional intelligence for a leader?
Self-awareness: Leaders with high EQ are aware of their emotions and know when they’re in a good or bad mood. They can also identify the cause of their feelings, which helps them to make better decisions. Identifying your feelings is the first big step in EQ, as you can learn to understand how your feelings and emotions influence your mood and surroundings, working to eventually mitigate their emotions and work to better control them in a situation. Which leads to –
Self-management: Leaders who are able to manage their own emotions are more likely to be successful because they won’t let their feelings get in the way of making sound decisions. If you have an important meeting coming up and you don’t feel like going because of X reason, but then have the mindfulness and self-management skillsets to realize that missing this meeting could affect your relationships, client or career path negatively down the road – you can work to incrementally change your mentality if you learn to compartmentalize your emotions and remove them from the meeting or situation.
Empathy: Being able to understand other people’s perspectives allows leaders with high EQs develop strong relationships with coworkers and customers alike; this leads directly into –
Relationship Management: Relationships should always come first when it comes down to choosing between doing what is best for yourself versus doing what is best overall – both personally and professionally. You can become a better leader by developing your emotional intelligence, the data and studies have been out. There are several very easy ways you can improve your emotional intelligence –
Research and learn about it. You can start by reading books and articles on the topic, or attending training sessions at work if your work is progressive enough to acknowledge EQ. In my journey of self-growth and EQ, it started with a simple Google search after I heard the term in a podcast and later saw “EQ” as preferred skillset in an application to a role.
Practice it in your everyday life by paying attention to how others react when they’re upset with you or feeling frustrated, then try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they might be feeling. This is my favorite strategy in EQ. One of my favorite books that helped me truly understand thinking outside the box in relationships and conflict came from the Arbinger Institute called – The Anatomy of Peace – Resolving the Heart of Conflict. I highly recommend it. The also have a prequel to this book, but The Anatomy of Peace was the kickstart.
Learn from others who have high EQs by observing them interacting with people who are less skilled at understanding emotions than them ( like a great parent and a child ). Ask yourself: why does this person seem so good at relating to others? What do they do differently than me? How does their behavior differ from mine when dealing with someone who’s upset or angry?
If you want to be a better leader, it’s important to develop your emotional intelligence. This means understanding the emotions of others and being able to manage your own feelings in order to make good decisions. EQ and empathy will help you build stronger relationships in your personal life and in business. Within your business, you will see your employee culture and morale improve, which will improve their performance at work, which will ultimately lead to greater profits for your company, longer tenures and passionate people in their work. Try it! I challenge you to prove me wrong! As always, I am here for support if you have any questions or thoughts around this topic or others. Go learn and conquer.
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