Most leaders aspire to be the very best versions of themselves. They understand that they need a mix of both technical knowledge as well as soft skills to excel in their careers. Said another way, they need to combine their IQ with their EQ, or emotional intelligence, for the best results.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage emotions in ourselves and others. But this isn’t always easy, and even the finest leaders can at times falter with emotional intelligence.
In his book, EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide To Emotional Intelligence, Justin Bariso, explains that to make emotions work for you, instead of against you, you need to understand four key abilities linked to emotional intelligence:
Self-awareness is the ability to identify and understand your own emotions and how they affect you. This means recognizing how emotions impact your thoughts and actions (and vice versa) and how your feelings can help or hinder you from achieving your goals.
Self-management is the ability to manage emotions in a way that allows you to accomplish a task, reach a goal, or provide a benefit. It includes the quality of self-control, which is the ability to control your emotional reactions.
Social awareness is the ability to accurately perceive the feelings of others and understand how those feelings influence behavior.
Relationship management is the ability to get the most out of your connections with others. It includes the ability to influence through your communication and behavior. Instead of trying to force others into action, you use insight and persuasion to motivate them to act on their own accord.
What’s important to note here, says Bariso, is that while each of these four abilities is interconnected and naturally complements the others, one isn’t always dependent on another. You might naturally excel in one area, and be challenged in another. The first step to bolstering your emotional intelligence is to identify your tendencies, and then adjust them to highlight your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
Even armed with this knowledge, you might not be as emotionally intelligent as you think. Here are three surprising ways to know you might be deviating from EQ—and how to quickly get back on track:
1. You pride yourself on speaking your mind.
While candor in the workplace can be valuable, not every thought should be voiced immediately (or maybe, ever), especially in an emotionally-charged situation.
What to do instead: Press the pause button.
Emotionally intelligent people understand the power of taking a beat to digest and consider information before responding to it. When you give yourself a moment to pause, you prevent saying something you’ll later regret. Try counting to ten in your head or even taking a short walk so you can gain clarity, and calmly decide how to proceed. Or adopt a trick Bariso learned from comedian Craig Ferguson, and get into the habit of asking yourself these three questions:
- Does this need to be said?
- Does this need to be said by me?
- Does this need to be said by me now?
2. You treat every employee you manage the same.
You’re trying to be fair, so you employ the same management methods with every member of your team, regardless of their needs, and expect them to conform.
What to do instead: Move away from a one-size-fits-all mentality.
Emotionally intelligent managers don’t have a one-size-fits-all mentality. People are individuals, with unique needs. Some require lots of guidance and feedback to perform at their best. Others would rather you give them plenty of room to do their jobs, but be available should they have a question or need backup. Use empathy to guide you, and take the time to learn about what your direct reports need, and then adapt your style to serve them. Ask them what their goals are and what you can do to support them. Doing so sends a message that you care, and are willing to invest your efforts to help them grow.
3. You’re “coin-operated.”
Being “coin-operated” means you’re motivated by money—and little else.
What to do instead: Find motivation in the challenge.
While you would suspect those in sales of being the largest culprits of a “coin-operated” mentality, the best salespeople I know believe passionately in the products and services they’re selling. So much so, that they don’t see what they’re doing as selling, but as helping provide solutions and value to their customers. In this way, they serve, don’t sell.These emotionally intelligent folks are motivated by more than money or a title and remain resilient and optimistic even when they encounter disappointment. They’re highly productive, love a challenge, and are very effective in whatever they do.
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