The Same Question… Again!
I keep getting asked “why is emotional intelligence important?” “I know my job. I am an expert. I have been doing this a long time.” “So what’s all this stuff about EQ?”
As a matter of fact, this question mostly comes from people who are already in leadership positions. They claim that they have worked hard to get to their management positions and all of a sudden they are being told that being smart, knowledgeable, technically qualified and highly intelligent is not enough. They are now being told that they also need to be ‘emotionally intelligent’. Most of them go, “Huh?”
Well… I understand how they feel. And yes… the world is changing… and as such, the requirements are changing.
Companies no longer need (or want) authoritarian leaders who give orders and expect to be immediately and unchallengingly obeyed. Companies no longer want leaders to be just experts at counting or building widgets.
Companies want leaders who can build positive working relationships with board members, senior managers, direct reports, peers, customers and stakeholders. Companies really want leaders who can get the job done through their staff.
Generally, staff members almost everywhere on the planet no longer respond to autocratic dictates of directors, managers or supervisors. Staff members at every level want to be heard, want to be engaged, want to be empowered, want to be understood and want to feel that they have a ‘say’ in the place where they spend a lot of time every day.
So yes, emotional intelligence and competence is the new requirement for leaders at every level of the organization. So, here are some of the areas in which leaders are now expected to gain competence in:
- Higher levels of self-awareness so that you understand your own feelings and can discern the relationships between your feelings, thoughts and your actions.
- Higher levels of emotional resilience so that you can expertly handle the stresses and strains of leading in difficult times, effectively manage difficult circumstances and effectively deal with difficult people.
- Increase flexibility so that you can respond rapidly to new developments and radical changes in your environment without getting stuck in the past or holding on to what ‘used to be’.
- Increased ability to deal with stressful situations and to respond effectively. It is never about the stressors… it is always about how you respond to the stressors. Emotions and stress go together… so manage your emotions well and you will manage your response to stress well.
- Enhance your problem-solving and decision-making skills by developing the ability to take your feelings out of the equation when making decisions. Develop the ability to focus on data and facts and use these as the keys to solving problems effectively
- Learn to use your emotions to positively engage, influence and persuade others. And develop the skill to allow other people to ‘feel you’ through your honesty, passion, commitment, sense of purpose and your unequivocal support for them.
The above are just a few of the areas of emotional intelligence and competence that leaders are expected to excel in.
For most people – these do not come naturally – particularly if you’ve been trained to mostly use your intellect – your cognitive skills. Your education has had you focus on knowledge, information, critical thinking, and – well – high IQ.
But research has shown that while levels of IQ seems to have risen by 25 points in recent times, the levels of adult EQ have dropped dramatically. And EQ levels have dropped at the very time that they are now desired more and more at all levels of leadership.
To be clear… it is not just at the leadership levels that higher EQ is needed… it is desired everywhere in the organization.
So – how do organizations prepare their staff and leaders: By providing training and coaching services such as those that I facilitate.
The good news is that – while IQ is hard to change – EQ is much easier. Take an EQ Assessment, attend a good EQ Training, get effective EQ Coaching and your EQ levels can skyrocket in as little as 6 months! Guaranteed!
So, how do low levels of EQ look in an organization? Here are a few examples:
- Low EQ levels among managers lead to poor internal team alignment.
- Managers burn unnecessary emotional energy.
- Managers either create internal conflict or are unable to resolve conflict with or among team members.
- Leaders are often the source of problems within their departments.
- Energy spent on office drama, gossip, and politics means less time spent on productive things.
- Cliques and silos abound in the organization and people are focused on their ‘territory’.
- Misunderstandings also abound and lead to poor relationships, arguments, and splits within teams and between departments.
- Problems within teams go unresolved because managers may be unable or unwilling to deal with difficult individuals.
- Both staff and managers carry hurt feelings for months and years which make them unable to effectively carry out the work of the organization.
- Managers do the work themselves and therefore work long hours and are overburdened and burnt out.
- Managers are unable to motivate and influence team members to work effectively towards team goals.
- Morale and motivation levels are low within the team.
- People are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities outside of the company.
- Managers and staff cover up their emotional ‘incompetence’ by using their authority, technical knowledge or long term experience to ‘hide behind’.
- Staff are not thrilled with their job and spend much of their time browsing online or stretching the time they take to complete projects.
- Projects take longer than they should because of poor relationships, poor or ineffective communication and general misunderstandings.
- Leaders at the top are not connected with staff who interface with customers… Disconnections and gaps are everywhere in the organization due to insufficient communication and non-existing relationships between levels of staff and levels of leaders.
The bottom line is that both managers and staff need training to improve their levels of emotional intelligence and competence. To be clear, the focus should not be just on learning about emotional intelligence. The real focus should be on training managers and staff to develop emotional competence – skills.
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