Gauging Emotional Intelligence

Significant research over the last two decades has shown that emotional intelligence is likely the single most powerful success factor yet discovered affecting everything from job performance and annual income to mood and satisfaction in life.

Emotional intelligence subsumes the majority of other critical skills including time management, decision making, and communication. It is no wonder that emotional intelligence is responsible for 58% of performance in all types of jobs and is the single greatest driver of leadership and personal excellence. But how does emotional intelligence play such a large role in so many important skills?

Emotions are the root of all human behavior. Whether we are aware of it or not, the motivation behind every action (no matter how small) is inherently emotional. As you master emotional intelligence, you master the ability to understand and control the motivations for your behavior. Working to improve your emotional intelligence increases your abilities in a host of other important skills because EQ gets right to the heart of the matter. Emotional intelligence is powerful and efficient-it allows you to focus your energy in a single direction for tremendous results.

The five skills that follow illustrate some of the tremendous gains you can realize solely by increasing your emotional intelligence.

1. Time Management – Preserving Your Most Precious Resource

In this age of abundance, time is the one thing nobody has enough of. Perhaps that’s why Google receives 111 million searches a month for Time Management. Few people recognize the degree to which time management depends upon the emotional intelligence skills of self- management and relationship management. Creating a good schedule is a very rational thing, but sticking to that schedule is decidedly emotional. Many of us start out every day with the best intentions to manage our time wisely. But then we receive a complicated email from a co-worker, a consuming phone call from a friend, or otherwise, get sidetracked until our well-laid plans go up in flames. We spend the rest of the day trying to put out somebody else’s fire or working to resolve issues that weren’t there in the morning. Before you know it, the day is gone and you’re completely off schedule. When the distractions are your own, sticking to a schedule requires self-management. When the needs of others try to impede upon your plans, it takes a great deal of social awareness and relationship management to finesse the relationship while ensuring that your priorities are still addressed.

2. Change Tolerance – Remaining Flexible in the Face of the Only Guarantee in Life

Show me somebody who claims to love change, and I’ll show you a well-intentioned liar. Change is uncomfortable for everyone at times, and for many of us, makes our skin crawl every time. Those who apply well-honed self-awareness and self-management skills tolerate change much more successfully than others. Self-awareness enables you to adjust comfortably to change because it gives you the perspective needed to realize when change is coming and when change is getting the better of you. Self-management keeps you cool in the moment often with a reminder that even the most stable, trusted facets of your life are not completely under your control. Those most averse to change, who possess great self-awareness and self- management skills, even set aside a small amount of time each week to list possible changes and what actions they can take in response.

3. Presentation Skills – Positive self-talk

Few things strike primal fear in the heart of the average person like standing in the spotlight in a room full of people (Your heart just sped up, didn’t it?). Even the most eloquent among us can be reduced to a spewer of verbal garbage once the sheer anxiety of public speaking takes hold. That’s why a knock-em-dead presenter’s most inspiring presentation is often the one she delivers to herself. A bit of positive self-talk-reminding herself of all the times she has succeeded and how qualified she is to speak on the topic—enables the effective speaker to use her performance anxiety to sharpen her focus and make her more articulate. If you think that’s silly, then you probably haven’t tried it. Emotional intelligence doesn‘t just make you aware of your emotions, it equips you with strategies for keeping them from holding you back.

4. Decision Making – How Emotions Make Rational Decisions

It has taken the world far too long to wake up to the fact that emotions simply cannot-and should not-be ignored when making decisions. Neuroscience now shows us that sometimes the most rational thing you can do is trust your emotions when making a decision. But in order to make this work, you have to be aware of the emotions you’re feeling, why you’re having them, and how they factor into the situation at hand. Here, there is no substitute for the core emotional intelligence skills of self-awareness and self-management.

5. Assertiveness – Mastering the Art

Emotional intelligence is commonly mistaken as a synonym for “nice.” In fact, the most emotionally intelligent response is often one where you directly and openly express your emotions. To paraphrase Aristotle, getting angry is easy. Getting angry with the right person, at the right time, and to the right degree requires emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence doesn’t allow lashing out, nor making yourself into someone else’s doormat. To be assertive, you have to know what you’re feeling (self-awareness), read the other party accurately (social awareness), and express yourself in a way that garners the best result (self—management and relationship management). People with high EQs do this naturally.

When you hear the term “Emotional intelligence” what does this mean to you? We typically link this to empathy, understanding, patience, etc. There are actually 7 key principles of emotional intelligence that can help your leadership team achieve peak performance and results. Employee interaction is ongoing and crosses all levels within an organization and outside of the organization. By definition, an organization, large or small, is a collection of people with specialized expertise who are brought together for a common cause in order to help a business produce the products and services they offer their clients. In most cases, the employees are from different age groups, different backgrounds, different family commitments and concerns, different cultures, different education levels with a wide variation in interests, goals, health, personalities as well as character values and beliefs. Some times, it is no wonder that goals and activities are miscommunicated or understood differently. These variations can affect people in the same department, people that need to interact with different departments, customers, suppliers, management and C suite executives. Any time a team has to work together to generate results one of the key factors in success is the ability of the team to work together in a way that supports and encourages one another, communicates well and believes in the organization’s mission and vision for the future.

If your team and leadership group scores high in their emotional intelligence, understanding, and abilities, this will have a significant positive impact on the success and results of the group. Conversely, if they score poorly in this area then the result can be a variety of issues, challenges and related problems that negatively impact group success and the results they trying to achieve.

Marcia Hughes and James Terrell define “Emotional Intelligence” as based on skills in each of the following areas:
-Team Identity
-Emotional Intelligence
-Stress Tolerance
-Positive Mood
-Conflict Resolution

When all of these factors are understood by the group and everyone is in sync then a flow results that can be like poetry in motion. Training to help your leaders in these areas can pay huge dividends. All these employee interactions will never be perfect yet emotional intelligence can be learned and the emotional literacy that results will improve with practice.

For much of our lives, intelligence and cognitive skills have been taught in all levels of schools, stressed in your job interviews and then supplemented throughout our careers with additional training and development. I would never suggest that this is not important as I am sure we can all agree it is critical to success, but it is puzzling that very little focus, resources or money is committed to building emotional skills and intelligence in our employees, teams, managers, and executive. In fact, surveys and studies show that less than 20% of organizations complete any formal training in this area at all. Similarly, there is very little training or mentoring done in areas such as inspiring, motivating, encouraging and engaging employees to high-performance levels.

Some people will say that El skills and intelligence are not that important but what is shocking is that when you look at the research, case studies and expertise in this area we actually realize that teams and people with high emotional intelligence are equally, if not more important than cognitive skills when evaluating the success and results that the team generates.

There are some excellent programs available now that can help build your leadership team develop these skills. In several cases, employees in organizations are promoted to leadership positions with natural people and communication skills while in other cases they are promoted due to their knowledge and ability to generate results but may not be as comfortable leading a team and motivating and encouraging them to high performance.

Could your team use some support in this area? In many instances, small improvements in these areas can have a significant impact and provide strong results and profits.