The term emotional quotient, or EQ, refers to a concept made famous in 1995 by renowned psychologist, Daniel Goleman. His book, Emotional Intelligence touched about managing emotions and the way they impact relationships both personal and professional. Goleman wasn’t the first to discover the importance of emotional interactions. A decade before his book was released Wayne Payne, who published his own ideas on the concept in, A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence.
Before the concept of EQ and EI become common knowledge, the business world placed the most importance on IQ, or intelligence quotient. This, of course, is a measurement of smarts based on a test initiated by psychologist William Stern in 1912. The idea of IQ providing the necessary skills for a leader in the workplace began losing credibility as more people began to realize that there’s more to leadership than smarts and education.
In the business world, a good leader must possess a high emotional quotient and the correct intelligence skillset to excel. So, how does one measure EQ, improve EQ and determine the importance of EQ in their role as a leader? Here we’ll discuss more thoroughly the role of emotional intelligence and how it affects personality, social awareness and the ability to deal with high-stress situations.
Current Outlook on EQ as a Leadership Skill
There are three schools of thought on EQ and its relationship to leadership skills.
- Emotional quotient is related to personality.
- Emotional quotient is related to learned skills.
- Emotional quotient is a combination of both.
When you break these theories down you can see that the first concept ties emotional intelligence to personality alone, how you act and who you are as a person. The second concludes that emotional intelligence is a learned behaviour and part of a skill set accomplished through life. The third incorporates both these concepts into one, concluding that EQ is both innate and learned.
Whatever the reason we develop EQ, it includes a very specific set of traits which allow us to measure how high our personal EQ is. These are the management of emotions, the awareness of our emotions, and ability to use emotions toward a goal, such as problem-solving.
Your emotional quotient also works in two directions. One is the way you manage your emotions in relation to others. The second being your ability to detect emotions in others and manage yours accordingly.
Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
A high EQ is always important in leadership, but it becomes even more essential when faced with specific situations. Some of the moments you’ll require high EQ are:
- Discouragement due to a missed goal or failure.
- Anxiety over high-stress situations.
- Anger when confronted with provocation.
- A need to manage the emotions of others.
- Attending to sensitive situations.
- Sussing out personality traits of peers and employees.
- Reacting to good news with decorum.
In personal relationships and home life, you also use EQ. You may notice a need to really turn on your EQ meter when dealing with pets, children, or individuals who require extra patience.
The EQ Test
While EQ is something you can train yourself to harness, there are also tools to help you improve your emotional awareness. An emotional intelligence test was created in 1998 by N.S. Schutte and his research team. The publication, called Development and Validation of a Measure of Emotional Intelligence, used the test on 346 subjects with a mean age of 29. The scores range from 33 to 165.
The test required subjects to answer on a scale of strongly agree to strongly disagree with disagree, agree, and neither agree nor disagree as middle selections. Sentences being rated by the scale included subjects like, “I know when to speak about my personal problems to others”, and “I find it hard to understand the nonverbal messages of other people”. The findings determined than women, on average, have a higher emotional intelligence than men.
The test is free for use for research purposes and offers some insight into how individuals think and behave in certain situations.
How to Develop Your EQ
Developing EQ skills takes practice and self-awareness. For those in leadership roles, building trust with your team members is easier when you can manage emotions and problem-solve together. To hone these soft skills there are a few things you can do. Such as:
Don’t React, Respond
High-stress situations which warrant a high-stress reaction are tough to get around in business. Maintaining a high level of professionalism when emotions are running high isn’t something every leader can manage. One way to get better at this skill is to respond, rather than reacting in a situation.
For example, if an employee loses a big account over a small mistake, your first instinct may be to cast blame, or even yell. Neither of these reactions will bring back the big account or fix the situation. On the contrary, getting upset over the mistake will cause turbulence among team members and could hurt your relationship with your team.
Rather than reacting to the situation based on how the loss of a big account makes you feel, respond to the situation with a positive attitude. Posing a question to your team like, “how could we potentially retrieve this lost account?”, or, “what could we do in the future to save ourselves a big loss like this?” reinforce your faith in your team and leave them feeling competent.
Be an Active Listener
Listening is about so much more than simply hearing what somebody has said to you. Actively listening to a speaker requires eye contact, reflection, empathy, acknowledgement, and a well-thought response. Actively listening to somebody gives you the ability to recognize the full meaning of their message and give a meaningful reply in kind.
How is active listening related to EQ? We mentioned above that emotional intelligence goes both ways, from you to those you interact with and vice versa. A big part of using your EQ to its highest potential is understanding what others are feeling and knowing how to deal with those emotions in a business setting.
- Some ways to successfully achieve active listening include:
- Watching for body language
- Reading facial expression
- Listening to tone of voice
- Picking out relevant details during the conversation
Sometimes active listening also means asking questions to gain a full picture of the concept your speaker is trying to paint. Questions like, “how did that make you feel?”, “What happened next?”, and “how can I help” are usually good places to start.
Learn to Empathize
Some people are born with a natural ability to empathize with their peers, others must be taught this skill set. Empathy is the ability to relate to somebody else and what they are going through. It’s a full understanding of the situation or discussion you are in, which helps you react accordingly. Empathy is different from sympathy. Sympathy is when we feel bad for something somebody has gone through. Empathy is understanding what they have gone through as though we have gone through it ourselves.
One way you can practice empathy is actively listening to somebody’s issue and putting yourself in their shoes. Imagine what you would feel in that situation, and how you would want to react personally. Being emotionally aware on this level is crucial to becoming a great leader. It lets you connect with your coworkers and better understand where their emotional levels are. This gives you more opportunities to coach, encourage, and advise.
Handle Constructive Criticism with Decorum
Leadership roles undergo a lot of scrutiny because you’re one person managing a team of many. That’s a lot of opinions aimed your way after every decision. Effective leaders need to manage these opinions and take on constructive criticism without feeling personally criticized. This is a difficult task for the best of us, but in a business setting where we feel we are putting our all into performing a job, it can be a big blow to hear negative feedback.
As a leader everything from communication skills to time management skills are constantly under scrutiny. Leaders with a high EQ can receive this information and turn it into something positive. If an employee tells you they are dissatisfied with your approach to project distribution, for example, you may initially feel insulted.
Taking the time to dissect these emotions, manage them, and turn the negative into a positive will provide a better outcome than getting upset. A great response might be, “Thank you for letting me know you were feeling this way. Can you tell me how our project distribution could be more efficient?”. Even if you’re unable to change the distribution due to company policy, the employee feels acknowledged, empathized with, and like he or she has a voice in the situation.
EQ Thought Leaders
A thought leader in the world of emotional quotients and emotional intelligence is somebody who has paved the way for this theory to become a practice. Many amazing people have played a role in the development and testing of the EQ concept.
Dr. Steven Stein
One innovator in this field, and one who we are proud to call Canadian, is Dr. Steven Stein. A Toronto native, Dr. Stein is a psychologist who has been writing and experimenting with emotional intelligence for more than three decades. A known authority in this field, Dr. Stein has not only published a multitude of research papers and books on the subject, he also authored both, “Emotional Intelligence for Dummies”, and “Improving Your Emotional Intelligence for Dummies”.
John D. Mayer, Peter Salovey & David R. Caruso
Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso are experts in EQ, having developed their own emotional intelligence test still used in business to this day. The team developed the test at Yale and The University of New Hampshire. They’ve also published several books on the subject.
While we mentioned Goleman above, we couldn’t leave him out as a definitive thought leader in the creation and continuation of emotional intelligence. His theories and research have had a long-term effect on the discussion of high emotional intelligence and its role in effective leadership.
These are only a small selection of the movers and shakers bringing the importance of EQ to the forefront. In the corporate world, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that mental health should be just as revered as physical health and mental acuity.
Role of Pro Dev in Increasing EQ
Professional development is an everyday part of the business world. However, many don’t realize that it’s also a huge help in improving EQ and learning to manage emotions in the workplace. Professional development comes in many shapes and sizes and may differ between industries and job titles. Some of the most common forms of Pro Dev for emotional intelligence are:
- Team building exercises
- Public speaking demonstrations
- Information sessions
- Personal research
- Group retreats
- Education opportunities on meditation and breathing techniques
- Taking the EQ test and developing long term goals based on results
Whether you’re already implementing emotional intelligence practices in your office, or this is all new to you – what’s important to realize is that the emotions you have affect others and vice versa. Once we are aware of how our emotions change the perception of people around us, it’s easier to learn empathy, self-control, and other important techniques to increase EQ.
Contact Sandbox Centre for Support with EQ Training
Sandbox Centre is excited to offer support for local communities in Central Ontario looking to improve EQ and other leadership traits. Our office is designed to help entrepreneurs, small businesses and start-ups grow and evolve with the current business climate. EQ has a big impact on modern business, more so than we even realize at times.
If you’re interested in learning more about emotional intelligence and how to more efficiently manage emotions at work, we’d love to hear from you. Visit us in person on the 2nd floor at 24 Maple Avenue in Barrie, Ontario, and join the Sandbox community on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.