Becoming a More Positive Influence: Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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Do you want to take a guess at identifying the people in an organization with the lowest levels of emotional intelligence (EQ)?

According to Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves, the authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, they found that across over 100,000 senior executives (including 1,000 CEOs), managers, and line employees, the people in organizations that have the lowest EQ are those in the C-suite.

In fact, what they found was that EQ scores of employees rise as they climb the ladder into the management level. Middle managers stand out as having the highest EQ scores in the workforce. But, beyond middle management, there is a steep descent as you go up the corporate ladder to the C-suite.

In the words of Bradberry & Greaves:

“A leader’s primary function is to get work done through people. You might think then, that the higher the position, the better the people skills. It appears the opposite is true. Too many leaders are promoted because of what they know or how long they have worked, rather than for their skill in managing others. Once they reach the top, they actually spend less time interacting with staff. Yet among executives, those with the highest EQ scores are the best performers. We’ve found that EQ skills are more important to job performance than any other leadership skill. The same holds true for every job title: those with the highest EQ scores within any position outperform their peers.”

If EQ is so important, what is it?

Emotional intelligence is broadly defined as: A set of abilities related to the understanding and use of emotions that affect social functioning. Specifically, there are four abilities that comprise emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to diagnose and recognize our own emotions

Consider: In a heated situation, are you able to stand apart from yourself, interpret your feelings, and understand why such feelings are arising within you?

  • Emotional Regulation: The ability to control our own emotions

Consider: Do you have a tendency to automatically react, or thoughtfully respond? Is your ability to thoughtfully respond based upon your emotions, or can you thoughtfully respond despite your emotions?

  • Other Awareness: The ability to recognize and diagnose emotions displayed by others

Consider: How much effort do you make to be attuned to the emotions of others? Do you have a tendency to promote your own ideas and thoughts without considering how those ideas and thoughts may make others feel?

  • Emotional Navigation: The ability to respond appropriately to others’ emotional cues

Consider: When your manager or colleagues are sending signals that your ideas are not adding value, do you keep pushing the issue, or are you able to let it go for the moment?

In a study conducted across 40 companies, Daniel Goleman found that EQ was twice as important in setting star managers apart from average managers as cognitive intelligence and expertise. And, within a multinational consulting firm, he found that employees with high levels of EQ contribute more than twice the revenues to the firm as those low on EQ.

If EQ is so important, how do I enhance in my EQ?

In order to enhance your EQ, two primary things need to happen. You need to become more intentional, and you need to be able to create more space to be intentional.

Being intentional means that you are deliberative, you do things with a purpose. To increase your self-awareness, emotional regulation, other awareness, and emotional navigation, you have got to set intentions within each area (more on this to come).

But, the primary thing that prevents us from doing this is that we fail to carve out the time to set these intentions.

Thus, the first thing you need to do is to set aside time and create space to be intentional. Let me give two recommendations on how you can find this time:

  • Get up earlier in the morning

Most people wake up at the last possible moment—the time that enables them to help other people. We don’t wake up at a time that enables us to invest in ourselves and set the right tone for our day. (If you want a great book about this, see Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod)

  • Mind your transitions

Throughout your day, you are going to have transitions as you move from one thing to another. These include driving from home to work, going from one meeting to another, going from working on a task to jumping on a phone call, etc. For each of these transitions, set aside at least 10 seconds to set your intentions for your next block of time.

Once you have some time to be intentional, here is what you need to be intentional about:

  • The energy and feelings you want to bring to your situation (if you want a great book about this, check out High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard)

  • How you want others to perceive you

  • Considering how you want others to feel after you interact with them (I dare you to set intentions about this prior to talking to a customer service representative or telemarketer)

  • Learning the social norms, social networks, and politics within your organization

  • Connecting and interacting with your staff (that seemed to be a primary reason why middle-level managers had the highest EQ scores and C-suite executives had the lowest)

This article is the sixth article in a series of articles all about helping people and leaders become people of positive influence, people that others want to follow.

·         Article 1: Why Do Organizations Miss the Mark when Developing their Leaders?

·         Article 2: Becoming a More Positive Influence: Rewire Your Brain

·         Article 3: Becoming a More Positive Influence: Develop a Self-Purpose

·         Article 4: Becoming a More Positive Influence: Know How to Build Trust

·         Article 5: Becoming a More Positive Influence: Are You the Villain?

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