Have you stopped to think about why emotional intelligence is important to you as a leader? What is it about emotional intelligence that brings any benefit to your team or your workplace? I’m going to share with you my answers to that question today. You may have heard of Marcel Schwantes. He’s the principal and founder of Leadership From The Core and he recently shared thoughts on emotional intelligence and along with some questions that Daniel Goleman uses to help reveal your emotional intelligence. I’m confident that these questions will challenge you.
So first off, why do we even care? Why is emotional intelligence important to us as leaders? I want to pause for a second and let you think about that. Why is emotional intelligence so important to you? When I considered this question, I came up with the following answers.
Facilitates Team Participation
My first thought is that I believe emotional intelligence produces a better environment for my team. I think it facilitates the ability for the team to make a contribution. It facilitates the ability of every individual on the team to make a contribution. If you think about emotional intelligence, one of the things that happen is you recognize and realize that people are geared differently. They have different personality types.
Not everybody’s just going to come to the table when you ask them to share their input. Not everybody appreciates being at the front of the room. Some people want to be behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean that their opinion or their input is any less valuable. When you’re emotionally intelligent, you recognize that and you come up with ways to engage those people who might not otherwise be engaged, or might be overlooked. I think it also prevents the loudest or the most outspoken team member from controlling the conversation.
A high emotional intelligence, or EQ, equals an ability to listen. I find this is a really important trait and one that’s very frustrating when it’s absent. When you’re the one talking, when you’ve engaged with a leader who doesn’t have a high level of emotional intelligence or doesn’t necessarily have a focus on listening to what you as an employee have to say, you feel ignored.
Maybe it’s a lack of eye contact, maybe a distraction with the mobile device, maybe staring off into space, obviously disengaged and not really able to repeat to you anything that you’ve said to them. Those things demonstrate a lack of value for what you have to say. High emotional intelligence often means that people are going to listen and engage with you in an authentic way.
I think it also says to the customer “You’re important to me, and I want to hear what you have to say.” Just because the customer is telling you something doesn’t mean that you’re going to take what they’ve said and go implement exactly what they want. But the customer won’t leave that conversation without feeling like they’ve been heard because you’re going to be able to repeat to them, in your own words, what you’re hearing them say to you.
A third thing that I think is very important is it demonstrates an ability to balance the demands between our work life, our family life, our personal life, our personal interests, the things that we maybe enjoy activities, etc. And it demonstrates that we’re able to value that in others as well.
If you have a high level of emotional intelligence, you understand that people don’t live to work, they work to live, and that’s not to say that work isn’t important. It’s obviously very important. It’s an important contributor financially to our global economy. It’s not just a benefit to us as individuals, but we benefit as a society, so work is important. It’s always going to be an important part of who we are, but it’s not all of who we are.
Emotionally intelligent people recognize that their team’s only objective is not to do the best job at work every day. They also have to do the best job at being a Mom or at being a Dad. They have to do the best job of being a spouse, a lover, a friend. Those are all really important things. Giving people time to be able to make a difference in their community is another aspect where this balance helps the individual and the business.
Emotional intelligence reduces conflicts between what I say and what I do. It’s not a “Do as I say, not as I do”, which is what we do sometimes with our children, right? We say, “Don’t follow my example. Just do what I tell you to do.” We recognize that as leaders, we have to have congruence between our messages and our behaviors. It means that we don’t even have to tell people as much as we show people. That’s an important difference and one that deserves our attention.
Makes It Safe To Ask For Help
Fifth, when you’re in a group or a team that recognizes everybody has certain capabilities or talents, then it creates an environment where I can ask for help. It positions the team to offer advice, guidance or assistance.
Marcel Shawntes had a couple of additional thoughts that are helpful and I want to share those with you too.
Allows You To Embrace Change
I like that idea because sometimes we find ourselves resistant to change and we can’t necessarily explain why. And when we dig into it, a lot of times there’s just a lack of comfort in ourselves. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the change, there’s something wrong with me. Maybe I’m fearful or have some anxiety about the turmoil that the change is going to introduce. But when you have a high degree of emotional intelligence, you can embrace change and look forward to the result that change will bring even though you might be nervous about it as you’re going through the process.
Embracing change doesn’t mean it’s easy. Your willingness to undertake change doesn’t necessarily mean that executing change is going to be hassle-free. Rather, you know that the effort, the willingness to persevere in the midst of that, is going to have a payoff.
The other thing that Marcel shared that I thought was really good is feedback is welcomed. You have to be able to process feedback that’s constructive. Constructive doesn’t mean it’s not critical, so just because it has some criticism attached to it doesn’t mean that it’s invalid or that there’s not value to take from it. Be open to receiving things from people when the delivery is poor. When I think about taking wheat and throwing out chaff, what I imagine in my mind is that no matter how somebody says it, or how poorly they say it, I want to be able to take what they’ve said and use it to improve and grow.
I want to be able to take what they’ve said and use it for my benefit, even when it wasn’t shared in a way that made me receptive. I think you can appreciate that. Those are some good reasons why we want to actually work on and demonstrate emotional intelligence.
IQ vs. EQ
Along with this Daniel Goleman, who is an authority on emotional intelligence, has some comments that about EQ, or emotional quotient, and he has some questions to help you to assess your emotional intelligence. Some have accused Daniel of favoring EQ over IQ. He was interviewed for an article in Time magazine written back in 2011 and they were asking him about this IQ vs. EQ. He says:
“Here are the facts. There’s no question IQ is by far the better determinant of career success, in the sense of predicting what kind of job you will be able to hold. It typically takes an IQ about 115 or above to be able to handle the cognitive complexity facing an accountant, a physician or a top executive. But here’s the paradox: once you’re in a high-IQ position, intellect loses its power to determine who will emerge as a productive employee or an effective leader. For that, how you handle yourself and your relationships — in other words, the emotional intelligence skill set — matters more than your IQ. In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding.”
Evaluate Your Emotional Intelligence
How do you evaluate your emotional intelligence? Daniel offers these nine questions:
- Are you usually aware of your feelings and why you feel the way you do
- Are you aware of your limitations, as well as your personal strengths, as a leader
- Can you manage your distressing emotions well — e.g., recover quickly when you get upset or stressed
- Can you adapt smoothly to changing realities
- Do you keep your focus on your main goals, and know the steps it takes to get there
- Can you usually sense the feelings of the people you interact with and understand their way of seeing things
- Do you have a knack for persuasion and using your influence effectively
- Can you guide a negotiation to a satisfactory agreement, and help settle conflicts
- Do you work well on a team, or prefer to work on your own
I want to encourage you this week to pick one of those questions and identify an area where you feel like you have a strong sense of emotional intelligence and, instead of picking one that you have to improve, I want you to pick one that you think you’re really strong in and I want you to think about what you could do differently this week to actually strengthen that particular area. I look forward to hearing from you about your results!
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Marcel Schwantes article on May 26, 2018, in Inc. Saying Yes to Any of These 8 Questions Reveals You’re Way More Emotionally Intelligent Than You Think
Marcel Schwantes article on October 11, 2017, in Inc. 9 Questions That Will Instantly Reveal Your Level of Emotional Intelligence
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