Emotional intelligence, or “EQ,” is a core competency for leadership and success in the workplace. EQ was popularized by author Daniel Goleman, who says EQ is “one’s capacity to deal effectively with your own and others’ emotions.”
There is a strong business case for emotional intelligence. Many Fortune 500 companies take a focused approach to assessing and developing EQ in their employees. Numerous studies indicate that EQ is the most important factor in job performance and promotion, particularly leadership.
One Gallup study of more than 2 million employees found the majority of workers rated having a caring boss higher than money or benefits. Productivity and workplace satisfaction have been linked to the amount of time people feel positive emotions at work. Good moods are good for business.
Why should you care about your EQ? The most frequently cited reason behind career derailment is a lack of emotional intelligence. Professionals and leaders who frequently vent anger, are insincere, untrustworthy or let their emotions run out of control can be toxic to workplaces.
The good news: Unlike IQ, EQ can be developed and improved. The bad news: EQ is hard-wired in our neural pathways in the brain; therefore, rerouting those circuits isn’t easy. It requires (like most areas of leadership development) self-awareness, understanding how co-workers interact with you, new skills, practice and focus.
Self-regulation (how we manage ourselves under stress), trust of self and others, empathy, listening, interpersonal communication, optimism, being able to inspire and influence others, team building and self-awareness are the most frequently cited skills and competencies associated with EQ development.
So, how do you increase your EQ? You can get started by focusing on these areas:
Self-awareness: It’s the foundation for EQ. You can’t change what you are unaware of in yourself. Being able to observe yourself in the heat of the moment is the first step to making a different choice versus your typical programmed emotional reaction. Understanding how you react under stress and pressure is imperative. Ask others; become a feedback-seeking missile. EQ assessments help you gain an understanding of how you uniquely respond under stress. This awareness is critical to stopping a downward slide on the corporate ladder — or to moving up.
Develop empathy: Having empathy means being able to understand what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes, to let someone know you have heard, understood and acknowledged their experience. This requires a shift from a focus on you to them. By the way, empathy isn’t about agreeing with someone else’s perspective; it’s about understanding where they are coming from.
Be informed — not ruled — by your emotions: Notice your feelings. It is unfortunate that many people were taught as children not to experience or “own” their feelings. There is valuable information in emotions — if you can tune into that internal channel. Feelings can clue us in about the importance and meaning of an event, situation or interaction. Start tracking your feelings when stressed or challenged. Is there a pattern? Are your feelings mostly positive or negative? What “triggers” your emotions? What action did you take after experiencing the emotion? What do you want to do differently next time?
How we play with (and lead) others is key to successful leadership. One way to improve your EQ is to work with a certified coach who specializes in emotional intelligence like me! I can help you identify areas of strength and challenge, teach you new EQ skills and provide the necessary feedback for improvement. Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities. I coach leaders all over the world via Skype. Call me: 360 682 5807 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org