What is Emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (or emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your emotions positively to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at work, and achieve your career and personal goals. It can also help you become self-aware, turn plans into actions, and make timely informed decisions.
If you are a leader, a manager or someone moving up into such a role, you need to read this article, understand it and choose to improve.
Why is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Important?
Emotional intelligence is generally talked about during conversations about “Soft Skills”. Most of us reading this will understand that Emotional Intelligence is not just a soft skill but possibly the number one skill you need.
How many people do you know who are academically incredible and highly intelligent but are socially inept and probably single? Due to lacking EQ, they have yet to succeed in relationships or work.
Now think of people you know who are not in the “Genius” category but are happily in a relationship and successfully climbing the career ladder. You will find these people understand EQ, what it means, and how to leverage it personally and professionally in most situations.
One good example of this is Allan Sugar. He left school at 16, never graduated from a university but started Amstrad in 1968. He became a lord with two honorary doctorates for science and a personal wealth of £1.2 billion.
We have seen him on “The Apprentice”, and you can see he has emotional intelligence down to an art form.
What are the seven signs of emotional intelligence?
· Getting Along Well and showing Interest In Others.
People with high EQ have the ability to make friends and get along with people quickly. Generally, they are comfortable in a room full of strangers and will find it easy to start conversations. They will also genuinely listen to understand versus listening to respond.
· Self-Awareness of Strengths and Weaknesses.
This group are on a journey of self-improvement and will excel in their endeavours as they fully understand their strengths. Because they know their weaknesses and constantly look for advice on improving, you find them very self-confident.
· Operating With Integrity.
Someone with high EQ will generally be trustworthy and conscientious. Integrity is everything, and this leader will take responsibility for any decisions, good or bad.
· Self-Awareness of Feelings.
Emotionally intelligent people will understand their emotions, especially anger and frustration. They can control these emotions and know where they come from. Identifying the source of their anger is a way to achieve this.
A person with high EQ will look for the answers to a problem instead of whinging about it. The solution focused on the moment to move forward.
According to Goleman, top performers in the workplace demonstrate motivational competencies that include a strong drive to achieve a commitment to reaching goals that benefit the group or organisation. Initiative and optimism inspire individuals to seize opportunities and take setbacks or obstacles in stride.
· Well-Placed Boundaries.
Individuals with a high EQ understand where the line is and when they need to say “NO”. They are also very good at assessing the time and resources required for a project.
Emotional intelligence in the workplace
Leaders and managers, to be successful, need to have a high understanding of emotional intelligence. In my follow-up article to this one, I will discuss the dark side of emotional intelligence.
Yes, there is a dark side! And some managers will use it for personal gain.
Recognising the power of emotions, another one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century spent years studying the emotional effects of his body language. Practising his hand gestures and analysing images of his movements allowed him to become “an absolutely spellbinding public speaker,” says the historian Roger Moorhouse—“it was something he worked very hard on.” His name was Adolf Hitler.
We will look at this more in the following article.
So managers and leaders must have a high understanding of emotional intelligence to maintain workforce engagement. They need to understand how decisions will affect the team but, more importantly, how it affects the individual.
For example, you change the team to suit the current business requirements. This changes the roles and responsibilities of those in the group. Did you give any thought to the way the individuals have perceived the changes? Have you inadvertently humiliated a team member in front of his peers because people see him losing responsibility and conclude it is due to incompetence?
You did not set out to embarrass or humiliate one of your team, but if the team does not understand or has not been privy to the change discussions, then as with all groups, “what they don’t know, they will make up.”
So emotional intelligence should be a fundamental part of your “Change Management” strategy. Getting people to understand and use management of change systems is generally difficult, but how many of you have been in such a meeting and documented a section on emotional intelligence and how those changes will impact your teams?
Emotional intelligence test
After reading this article, you may see some areas to improve. For me, it was the “Self-Awareness of Feelings” for those who know me will know that I tend to get outwardly angry when faced with an unacceptable situation. For the lack of a diagnosis of OCD, I also get agitated when the plan changes due to other people getting it wrong.
You can change and improve these behaviours.
I suggest you take some of the tests you will find for free online. See where you stand on these and see if the results correspond to the areas you need to improve.
360 appraisals as an incredible source of information about your EQ levels.
So, if you now look and understand your weak points in emotional intelligence, accept them and look to improve. Then you have already nailed two of the above seven traits.