What is EQ?

Note: This is the 3rd in a four part series on Leadership Coordination, a.k.a., Executive Coaching. Previous installments of all blogs can be found on my website under "Steve's Blogs" - http://stevemarshallassociates.com

In my work, I regularly assess new clients on the basis of three aspects of their personalities; IQ, PQ, and EQ. Acronyms are confusing, right? Here is a key:

  1. IQ = Intelligence Quotient

  2. PQ = Political Quotient/Intelligence

  3. EQ = Emotional Quotient/Intelligence

Last week I covered IQ and PQ. In this week's offering I will focus on thepièce de résistance (but often hidden) of the most important of the 3 quotients for leaders - emotional intelligence.

What is EQ?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.

If you have high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others, and engage with people in a way that draws them to you. You can use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life.

Emotional intelligence consists of five attributes:

Why is emotional intelligence (EQ) so important to leaders?

As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams.

How to Spot an Emotionally Intelligent Leader (good example - Nelson Mandela):

1. Non Defensive and Open
Insecure leaders that demonstrate low EQ become defensive and take it personally whenever they encounter anything that appears to them as criticism and a challenge to their authority. A secure leader with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence strives to listen, understand and find out what is behind behaviors and actions of those they are responsible for managing. They listen before they respond and if they don’t understand something ask open-ended questions that are meant to gather more information. As opposed to leaders with low emotional intelligence, they don’t make it about them, but look for ways to make the situation better for everyone involved.

2. Aware of Their Own Emotions
Leaders who are oblivious to their own emotions and how they are impacted by them have no awareness of how their words and actions affect others. This can have a very devastating effect on staff morale and lower productivity. Highly emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of strong emotions and avoid speaking out of anger and frustration. If they feel the urge to give in to strong emotions in their interactions with others, they give themselves a time out, waiting until their emotions have leveled off and they have had a chance to think about the situation.

3. Adept at Picking Up On the Emotional State of Others
A skilled and empathetic leader that is aware of others’ emotions is able to use that awareness to develop stronger relationships with those they manage. Even if delivering bad news, they are able to cushion the impact by simply letting the receiver know that they are aware of how they might be feeling. Leaders with high EQ are able to put themselves in the place of the person receiving criticism or negative feedback, allowing them to give it in a way that might be more beneficial and less destructive.

4. Available for Those Reporting to Him/Her
Good leaders make themselves available to those reporting to them both physically and emotionally. They are responsive to the fact that there will be times that those reporting to them will be having difficulties outside of work that will impact them. Death of family members, friends, relationship breakdowns, and all sorts of life crises will affect virtually everyone at work at times. Emotionally open and secure leaders understand are there for support during these times.

5. Able to Check Their Ego and Allow Others to Shine
While possessing self-confidence, high EQ leaders do not have a need to demonstrate their own importance or value. They chose their words carefully and speak and act out of concern for their staff, and the health of the organization. They do not have the need to have their ego massaged and are not looking for ways to take credit for the work of others. Understanding that people work better when they feel appreciated, they are always looking for ways to give positive feedback and rewards for a job well done. Secure in their own abilities, they are not threatened by those under them and actively seek to help them work to the best of their capabilities and rise up the organization.

Emotional intelligence affects:

  • Your performance at work. Emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EQ testing before hiring.
  • Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
  • Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
  • Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

How to raise your emotional intelligence:

  1. All information to the brain comes through our senses, and when this information is overwhelmingly stressful or emotional, instinct will take over and our ability to act will be limited to the flight, fight, or freeze response. Therefore, to have access to the wide range of choices and the ability to make good decisions, we need to be able to bring our emotions into balance at will.
  2. Memory is also strongly linked to emotion. By learning to stay connected to the emotional part of your brain as well as the rational, you’ll not only expand your range of choices when it comes to responding to a new event, but you’ll also factor emotional memory into your decision-making process. This will help prevent you from continually repeating earlier mistakes.
  3. To improve your emotional intelligence—and your decision-making abilities—you need to understand and manage your emotions. This is accomplished by developing key skills for controlling and managing overwhelming stress and becoming an effective communicator.

What kind of a relationship do you have with your emotions?

  • Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment?
  • Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach or chest?
  • Do you experience discrete feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?
  • Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others?
  • Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making?

If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, your emotions may be turned down or turned off. In order to be emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent, you must reconnect to your core emotions, accept them, and become comfortable with them.

One other item to keep in mind:

Our emotional state is not static. As human beings, we all experience a circular flow of emotions, similar to the model on the left. As people, we are never content for very long, so to experience change, we must transition through the emotional qualities shown in the rooms above. If you are not going through these transitions illustrated by Claes Janssen, you are either not growing or changing and/or both. The only other reason, I guess, would be if we were not interacting with other people?

Next week: A More in-Depth Look at Emotional Intelligence & Case Histories.