Does Higher Emotional INtelligence Equal a Higher Paycheck?

Note: This is the 4th and now, not the last, in a five 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 early November of this year, I posted a blog on Organizational Development. In that blog I quoted the Gallup Corporation's study results that show that 70% off the American workforce is disengaged and has been since Gallup first started tracking it in 2000.

One of the root causes of that sad statistic is poor management and furthermore, poor managers with low EQ.
Employee engagement surveys, such as Gallup’s and Sirota’s, have shown that managers are the major cause of employee disengagement and stress, and disengagement and stress have been shown to be major inhibitors of productivity and retention. In line with those findings, the American Institute of Stress reports that stress is the main cause underlying 40% of workplace turnovers and 80% of work-related injuries. Although EQ-coaching will not entirely solve these problems, it can alleviate the symptoms for both managers and employees. So, with or without a coach, working on your EQ does pay off.

How can you tell what your EQ is? There are some great assessments out there; some are free and some come with a price tag; those are usually best accompanied by a coach to interpret them for you. In the meantime, here are 8 quick and easy ways to see exactly how well developed your emotional skills are, and what areas are most in need of improvement:

1. You're curious about people you don't know. Do you love meeting new people, and naturally tend to ask lots of questions after you've been introduced to someone? If so, you have a certain degree of empathy, one of the main components of emotional intelligence.

2. You know your strengths and weaknesses. A big part of having self-awareness is being honest with yourself about who you are -- knowing where you excel, and where you struggle, and accepting these things about yourself. An emotionally intelligent person learns to identify their areas of strength and weakness, and analyze how to work most effectively within this framework.

3. You trust your gut. An emotionally intelligent person is someone who feels comfortable following their intuition. If you're able to trust in yourself and your emotions, there's no reason not to listen to that quiet voice inside (or that feeling in your stomach) telling you which way to go.

4. After you fall, you get right back up. How you deal with mistakes and setbacks says a lot about who you are. High EQ individuals know that if there's one thing we all must do in life, it's to keep on going. When an emotionally intelligent person experiences a failure or setback, he or she is able to bounce back quickly. This is in part because of the ability to mindfully experience negative emotions without letting them get out of control, which provides a higher degree of resilience. (There is an old Japanese proverb that fits this trait well - "Fall down 7 times, get up 8")

5. You're a good judge of character. You've always been able to get a sense for who someone is pretty much right off the bat -- and your intuitions are rarely wrong.

6. You take time to slow down and help others. If you make a habit of slowing down to pay attention to others, whether by going slightly out your way to say hello to someone or helping an older woman onto the subway, you're exhibiting emotional intelligence. Many of us, a good portion of the time, are completely focused on ourselves. And it's often because we're so busy running around in a stressed-out state trying to get things done that we simply don't take the time to notice (much less help) others.

7. When you're upset, you know exactly why. We all experience a number of emotional fluctuations throughout the day, and often we don't even understand what's causing a wave of anger or sadness. But an important aspect of self-awareness is the ability to recognize where your emotions are coming from and to know why you feel upset. Emotionally intelligent people can take a step back from their emotions, look at what they're feeling, and examine the effect that the emotion has on them.

8. You're good at reading people's facial expressions. Being able to sense how others are feeling is an important part of having a good EQ. Take this quiz from UC Berkeley to find out just how skilled you are at reading others' emotions.

Can I improve and/or increase my EQ? YES! "Whereas IQ is very hard to change, EQ can increase with deliberate practice and training," Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of Business Psychology at University College London explained earlier this year on the HBR Blogs. "The most important aspect of effective EQ-coaching is giving people accurate feedback. Most of us are generally unaware of how others see us," he added.

Excerpted from his study which concluded in 2013, Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic goes on to summarize the results of 3,000 articles published on EQ since the concept was first introduced in 1990:

1. Your level of EQ is firm, but not rigid. Everyone can change, but few people are seriously willing to try.

2. Good coaching programs do work. Good news for all you coaches and your clients; bad news for the skeptics. While no program can get someone from 0 to 100%, a well-designed coaching intervention can easily achieve improvements of 25%.

3) But you can only improve if you get accurate feedback. While many ingredients are required for a good coaching program, the most important aspect of effective EQ-coaching is giving people accurate feedback.

4) Some techniques (and coaches) are more competent than others. Although there is little research on the personal characteristics of effective coaches, there is some research on the methods that work the best. The most effective coaching techniques fall under 360° reviews and in the realm of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

5) Some people are more coachable than others. Even the best coach and coaching methods will fail with certain clients. This is hardly surprising given that many coaching engagements are arranged by HR departments for unenthusiastic clients.

What is the relationship between higher EQ and a higher paycheck? Just how important is high emotional intelligence to business success? When L’Oreal started hiring sales people based on emotional competency, the high EQ reps outsold the traditionally chosen ones by over $90,000. Another company found emotionally skilled sales people sold $54,000 more each. If you’re more convinced by research, study after study after study has linked EQ and career success.

In my own work, one of the most constant factors I find with leaders is their inability to gauge the importance of their impact on others; kind of the inverse of how others see us, but, with leaders, this trait is absolutely critical to success.

Example from my own career:

In 1988, I was the ED of a statewide medical association in Washington. I had an office in downtown Seattle with 13 people that worked there. My office required me to pass by just about everyone in that office and usually, I would stop off and chat with people on the way to my office in the back. One day, I was running behind schedule and rushed by everyone, back to my office, and closed the door for an important call I had to make.

After the call, I kept working on other matters in my office until my assistant, Kim, poked her head in the door and asked if she could have a word. I said, "Of course, what's up?" She started off slowly and with some hesitance, but then just blurted it out, "Is it true we are going to be laying off staff?" I was simply stunned and asked her where this idea had come from? She replied, "Well, when you ran in this morning, you looked worried, never said a word to anyone, and then you closed the door on your office for the past 2 hours. We started talking in the office and decided that the only reason that you ignored us all was because you had bad news and didn't want to tell us about it."

Wow! Did I feel stupid.
Lesson learned? As the leader, you don't get to have a bad day and you can't wear your emotions on your sleeve, especially when people are relying on you for their livelihood. Your impact on others and how others see you means you are on stage the entire time you have your leader hat on.

Many thanks to my advance reader on this week's offering - Mike Ware.

Next week: Case histories about EQ.