Author: Sarah Charles, High Performance Coach
A lot has been written about the relationship between Emotional Intelligence (measured as Emotional Quotient) and leadership capacity. However, for most, the question remains if EQ is a critical skill or just another politicized agenda cloaked in ‘education.’ Based on our experience at HigherEchelon Inc, we believe EQ is a differentiating factor between high performers. EQ impacts critical leadership capacity and can and should be developed. Why? Because leadership is a performance. At HigherEchelon Inc. we teach, coach and train leaders through our Resilient Adaptable Leader program and Executive Coaching sessions with performance based leadership as a foundational value.
Maximizing performance is critical to the success of any organization. What if the most prized and skillful employee lacks the ability to be aware of their own emotions and regulate them in different situations? Would the lack of interpersonal skills limit their ability to perform at their best? Emotional Intelligence has a major influence on how employees and leaders handle difficult situations, which affects their capacity for long term high performance.
Let’s explore emotional intelligence, the importance, and strategies you can use to cultivate it in the workplace.
What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and understand the emotions of others. Within emotional intelligence there are three skills:
- IDENTIFY: Emotional awareness or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions
- APPLY: The ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving
- MANAGE: The ability to manage emotions, which include both regulating one’s own emotion when necessary and helping others do the same.
There are five major skill categories in this area: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.
Like other skills, EQ can be taught and mastered. Have you ever thought, “let’s reign it in” when an employee is on a complaining tangent? In this case, an emotionally intelligent leader would realize when their emotions are becoming detrimental to productivity and in turn, regulate their conversation. However, a non-emotionally intelligent leader would continue at the cost of productivity and workplace morale. This example illustrates the importance of EQ: better workplace performance, productivity, and culture.
The first step to high emotional intelligence is to identify what you are feeling and be able to express that emotion in a clear, controlled way. When it comes to emotions, one part of our brain thinks and the other feels. Our emotions can override the thinking part of our brain and trigger us to react in ways that are not productive. Being able to calm ourselves and take a breath when the fight or flight response is kicking in is essential to managing our emotions. Additionally, we have immense control over how we express our feelings. Rather than being specific about our emotions, we tend to use general statements such as “I’m fine” or “I’m good” to describe how we are feeling. Instead we need to accurately identify the emotions we are experiencing.
For example, for emotions associated with “Anger,” there are a range of labels that we can use to express ourselves from feeling frustrated to being livid. Similarly, “Sad” emotions range from disappointed to devastated. Effectively describing what we are feeling, working through the emotion, and communicating that in our professional and personal relationships is vital to how we handle ourselves and react to others.
How to cultivate EQ
HigherEchelon’s Executive Coaching sessions, led by organizational and sport psychology specialists, focus on emotional intelligence as a key skill for long term leadership success.
Here are some things you can do to begin cultivating EQ:
- Be honest with yourself in the areas you may lack when it comes to emotional intelligence.
- Consider the five categories for managing emotion and what area you would like to build.
- When it comes to self-awareness and self-regulation: Jot down the emotions you have and whether or not those emotions are helping or harming you? How does that thought influence the way you react or respond to situations?
- For motivation, check in with your mindset and attitude and make sure your values are driving productive behaviors.
- When it comes to empathy and social skills, how do you relate to others? Have you done anything in the past week to show true connection and compassion for someone else?
We all have areas that we can improve and enhance. Being able to reflect and take inventory, while identifying patterns that may not be productive, is the path needed to improve our emotional intelligence.
Ready to grow emotional intelligence in your workplace?
Remember emotional Intelligence is a skill that can be honed with deliberate practice. The more awareness we have about how we deal with our emotions and handle situations with others, the better we become at controlling ourselves in a rapidly changing, complex world. This level of awareness gives us the ability to be high performers, even in stressful situations.
If you’re interested in coaching strategies to help enhance emotional intelligence, reach out to the HigherEchelon team.
- Bressert, S. (2018). What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Psych Central. Retrieved on January 28, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-emotional-intelligence-eq/
- Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional Intelligence. Why It Can Matter More than IQ. Learning, 24(6), 49-50