Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Harnessing your emotional intelligence.

Post 424 - Emotional Intelligence describes the ability to identify, assess, and manage your own emotions and that of others, either individually or in groups. Research suggests that the higher you rise in a company, the more Emotional Intelligence (EI) matters. EI abilities rather than IQ or technical skills are the discriminating competencies that predict who's likely to emerge as the leader in a group of very smart people. For example, in a study of more than 515 senior global executives, the most successful had the strongest emotional intelligence scores. A recent Harvard University study revealed that 90% - 95% of one's success in organizational leadership positions is attributed to EI and only 5% to 10% to IQ.

The EI model was quite a hit when it was introduced by Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence. Goleman focused on EI as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. He defined it in terms of self-awareness, altruism, personal motivation, empathy, and the ability to love and be loved by friends, partners, and family members. Goleman outlined four main dimensions of EI:

1. Self-awareness - the ability to read one's own emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions.

2. Self-management - controlling one's own emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.

3. Social awareness - the ability to sense, understand, and react to the emotions of others while understanding the dynamics of social networks.

4. Relationship management - the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing disagreement and conflict.

Goleman's book was later criticized because it didn't provide useful guidance about how to improve your EI. In this regard, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves is a book I highly recommend. “Emotional intelligence,” says Bradberry, “is another kind of smart. It’s having an awareness of your emotions, tendencies and the experience of others and then using that awareness to proactively manage your response to situations and people so you can avoid pitfalls and create better opportunities.” Bradberry and Greave's book allows each reader to test their emotional intelligence (they call it EQ) using a pass-code that provides access to an online test (so avoid used copies as the pass-code will have already been used). The test tells how well the taker manages their emotions, and pinpoints the specific skills they should focus on to improve.

Bradberry suggests that readers take the test and then practice three skills to help them improve in the one competency area where they scored lowest. The book presents a menu of 66 skills, all derived from extensive research conducted on how people actually increase their EQ. The beauty of the book is these skills are intuitive and easy to apply. Each technique is only 2-3 pages long, making it something you can read in the morning over breakfast and then focus on for the rest of the day. The catch is that you have to keep up this new way of doing things for three to six months before it becomes habitual. Because, as we all know, old habits die hard.

Emotional intelligence is important because

- 70% of us don't handle conflict or stress effectively.

- Just 38% of us can accurately identify our emotions as they happen.

- All signals entering our brain pass through the limbic system (the
emotional seat of the brain) before entering the cortex (the intellectual
seat of the brain).

- From a sample of thousands of leaders, research shows that CEOs on average have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace … but the higher the EQ, the better the CEO's performance.

• Strategies for increasing self-knowledge include actions like identifying physical cues for emotional states before you’re emotionally flooded.

• Strategies for increasing self-management include breathing properly … to make sure that enough oxygen is going to your brain.

• Another strategy is to monitor your self-defeating “inner talk.”

• Strategies for increasing social awareness include watching the body language of others, and practicing active listening.

• Strategies for increasing relationship management include being open and curious … find something new to notice about others. Ask questions about their thoughts and reactions (What do you like to do when you're not working?).

Self-knowledge doesn't necessarily translate into behavior; you have to isolate and practice EQ skills. So it's important to start with small steps and then practice your new skills frequently.


Bueller said...

This is very helpful. Thank you!

john cotter said...

I'm glad it's helpful. Thank you for reading my blog, Bueller.