Your Leadership Success and Emotional Intelligence

I got such a chuckle out of this quote from Humans of New York : “I’m not very good at comforting people. They’re like: ‘I’m having a horrible day.’ And I’m like: ‘Oh.'” (June 2015)

The quote is a great example of how pervasive emotional intelligence is in both our personal and professional lives.

Emotional intelligence is defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

A bounty of research confirms the link between emotional intelligence and career and personal success – here are a few data points:

– At American Express, those with the highest emotional intelligence scores were found to have the highest sales and highest levels of customer satisfaction.

– Authors of The EQ Edge explicitly note sub-scales within emotional intelligence that correlate to success in specific jobs and roles; for example, are you in sales? Did you know that those who score high in self –actualization, assertiveness, and happiness sell more? Did you know successful transformational leaders score higher in optimism, self-actualization, and empathy while those with a high degree of marital bliss were higher in happiness, self-regard, and self-awareness?

Dr. Marian Ruderman at the Center for Creative Leadership found that 28% of leadership performance is linked to Emotional intelligence.

TalentSmart reports that 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence and on average make $29,000 more than their lower emotional intelligence counterparts.

Compelling as all this data is, it’s only helpful if you can do something with it – if you can use it to differentiate or better yourself.

The good the news is that emotional intelligence is not genetic. It does increase as you mature and learn from your experiences. Even better, unlike IQ, you can proactively work to increase your level of emotional intelligence.  How do you know if you should focus on honing your emotional intelligence? Here are some questions for you to mull over:

1) Are you recognized as technically capable but find that you experience career or job hiccups, or you’re stalled, while others progress?

2) Do you see a pattern of mishaps in your interpersonal relationships?

3) Do you avoid a difficult person with whom you must work?

4) Do you fully understand the impact of your emotions on your decision-making, judgment, and problem solving capabilities?

5) Are you surprised (or irritated) when those around you seem upset with you?

6) Is it hard for you to explain and understand how others around you might be feeling and why?

Truth be told, emotional intelligence is a skill all of us should keep sharpening; it contributes to well-being in both our professional and personal lives. Here are some tactics to help you get started.

– When someone presents a differing viewpoint from yours, ensure you understand the reasoning behind the other person’s point of view. Keep your tone neutral and repeat back to them what you heard without any evaluation or judgment. Now put yourself in their shoes and imagine how they feel hearing your point of view. Ask them if you are right. Said one of my coaching clients after considering her interactions with a co-worker with whom she often disagrees: “I didn’t realize how much time I spent re-stating my point view to <this person> when I thought I was having a discussion with her. It’s about 90% of every conversation. She probably doesn’t feel like I am listening to her at all…and honestly, I’m not.”

– Think of a situation you find difficult to manage or one in which you don’t often get the result you want. Watch someone who manages a similar situation successfully. Note down what he or she did. If you have a strong relationship with that person, consider speaking to them about how they navigated the conversation. Listen and take notes.

– Before your next significant conversation or meeting, think about what you plan to say. Write down how those listening to you may react or may be impacted. Think about how you can adjust your message and body language so people will want to listen and be influenced by you.

– Study the topic – check out related training, books (I like the EQ Edge and Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ), and articles.

– Hit the pause button if you think you are responding with too much emotion. In normal circumstances, a small delay in your response time will have no negative impact on the outcome – in fact it can lead to a more positive one.

– And finally, remember, it takes 6 or 7 times of you doing something new before people notice. I know that seems like a long time and it is. Don’t give up.

Cheers to your leadership success –


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