Getting a feeling for EQ

The primary cause for business executives failing in their jobs is Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Understanding EQ and developing related soft skills is critical to your effectiveness as a worker, your ability to excel in and enjoy a workplace, and empower your future. These are usually not given much time by employers, who are more focused on tangible work.

“My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non (essential quality) 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.” – John Mayer, University of New Hampshire

Cool, but what is EQ?

The IQ of how people work

Until 1990, the concept of emotional intelligence did not exist. Workplaces were geared towards emotionless focus on logic and rationality. Feelings were taboo. This should seem odd, since humans can’t deactivate their human essence, emotions and feelings, on demand. It took a collaboration between professors from a few leading US universities to undo hundreds of years of ‘no-emotions’ propaganda.

What is EQ?

Many believe that it is a set of character traits or personality qualities, like optimism, initiative and self-confidence. Like Scientologists, they are wrong.

Actually, it is the ability to:

  • Perceive emotions in yourself and other people accurately
  • Understand emotions and use language to describe them
  • Manage and regulate your emotions and those of others
  • Use emotions as a source of information in creativity, problem-solving, and social situations like conflict resolution and negotiation

Intuitively, all of these elements of EQ make sense. People cannot interact and work with others without engaging with the emotional identities and personality traits of those people. To engage constructively, it is essential to be able to perceive, understand, and manage emotions.

Different people have unique EQ strengths and weaknesses, and that influences their work. Bill Clinton had a very obvious EQ which you can see academically analysed in all glory and flames here. Shout out to democracy for making him Grand Master of the Free World.

How do I improve my EQ?

You can do a simple test with the Institute for Health and Human Potential here. This will give you a good initial idea of your EQ.

Many companies online will try to charge you all manner of fees for the latest and strangest new-fangled EQ-training program. For now, here is one easy approach to improve a foundational part of your EQ, self-awareness:

Through reflection, work through the following questions:

  • Who do I want to be?
  • Who am I now?
  • How do I work from here to there?
  • How do I make change stick?
  • Who can help me?

For more guidance on this, check out Anne McKee’s exploration of the method.

But people still accuse EQ advocates of being wishy-washy and pseudo-scientific, without proof of the actual effect of EQ on companies and leaders. Emotionally sensitive companies and leaders have been measurably proven to significantly outperform rivals. And in case you don’t believe everything you read online without any nonsense filter, we proved it in this article.