Emotional intelligence, otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ, is the ability to understand and manage your emotions. It describes the capabilities that allow people to control and manage their emotional responses to events. Recent research indicates that EQ is the biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.
In a recent study, 90% of top performers in the workplace were high in EQ. Numerous other studies show a positive relationship between emotionally intelligent leadership and employee satisfaction, retention, performance and even income.
EQ affects how you manage your behavior and the behavior of others around you. It’s how you navigate social complexities and make decisions that achieve positive results.
According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who literally wrote the book on emotional intelligence in 1995 (Emotional Intelligence), leaders lead by example and inspire others. They are confident, honest, direct and consistent. They are clear, decisive, straight-forward and intuitive. Leaders are also good communicators, approachable and listen to others. They are empathetic and influential.
In a later article in Harvard Business Review, Goleman writes that it critical for leaders to have high EQ for success. He states, “The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”
Goleman’s main components of EQ are:
- Self-awareness — Knowing how your emotions can affect the people around you; Having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses; Behaving with humility;
- Self-regulation — Staying in control without a rush to judgment or making emotional or rash decisions; Being personally accountable;
- Motivation — Consistently working toward your goals and having high standards regarding the quality of your work;
- Empathy– Putting yourself in others’ situations; Developing others, listening actively and giving constructive feedback;
- Social skills — Communicating well; Keeping a positive outlook; Getting a team’s support; Looking forward to new missions or projects.
Unlike IQ, which is the same at age 15 or 50, EQ is something you can develop over time. It’s a flexible set of skills that can be improved with practice.
The following are some things you can do to improve your EQ:
- Improve your self-awareness by keeping a journal to jot down your thoughts. Slow down to examine why you experience a certain emotion. You may not be able to choose what happens to you but you can choose how you respond to a situation.
- Improve your ability to self-regulate by knowing and living by your values (having a personal code of ethics). Hold yourself accountable. Instead of blaming others, admit your mistakes and face the consequences. Practice being calm the next time you’re in a challenging situation.
- Improve your motivation by remembering what you really love about your job and career. Set new goals for yourself and make a commitment to meet them.
- Improve your empathy by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Pay attention to body language and respond to the feelings you see and hear when someone speaks.
- Build social skills by improving your communication and by learning conflict resolution techniques. Learn how to praise others when it’s earned.
You can train your brain by repeatedly using these EQ strategies to turn these behaviors into habits. Emotionally intelligent leaders create purpose-driven cultures, and purpose or mission-driven leadership inspires people to overcome insurmountable odds. In summary, the better your EQ, the more successful you will be as a leader.