The One Thing That Accounts for 75% of a Leader's Success

d&i strategies inclusive leadership Mar 07, 2017

Research has shown that Emotional Intelligence (EI) can be 3 times more important than IQ (ability to solve complex problems).  You can develop groundbreaking strategies, but if you can’t persuade others of the value and rally your team to deliver then it’s all for nothing.

It's not about unchecked emotions

People are often accused as being 'too emotional' in the workplace. This term is often used when leaders or co-workers that are prone to emotional outbursts of varying degrees – from angry shouting in reaction to a setback to sharp tones of frustration due to a sense of overwhelm.   It’s often the individual’s reaction to their own emotions that can make them act in a destructive or limiting behaviour, not the emotions themselves. The impact of these behaviours is tension within the workplace, disengagement and conflict.

It’s about being mindful

In a productive work environment, it is safe to explore emotions and they contribute to innovation and growth.

A leader who can access their feelings, feel them, process them and receive the information the feeling might have will be able to communicate their findings to their team. I'm not claiming that IQ holds no value – strategic thinking hold the second spot for most important characteristic of successful people managers. So instead of saying EI is more important than IQ, it is far better to remember that “IQ gets you the job but it is EI that gets you promoted.”

A truly emotionally intelligent leader has more then just empathy and likeability. According to Daniel Goleman and Richard E. Boyatzis in Harvard Business Review, there are a dozen components to true and complete EI:

1. Emotional self-awareness

2. Emotional self-control

3. Adaptability

4. Achievement orientation

5. Positive outlook

6. Empathy

7. Organizational awareness

8. Influence

9. Coach and mentor

10. Conflict management

11. Teamwork

12. Inspirational leadership

In order to excel, leaders need to develop a balance of strengths across the suite of Emotional Intelligence competencies. When they do that, excellent business results follow. "Simply reviewing the 12 competencies in your mind can give you a sense of where you might need some development," Goleman and Boyatzis write.

Too often, we make the mistake of defining emotional intelligence too narrowly. To use the example in Harvard business Review, Esther’s manager feels lucky to have such an easy direct report to work with and often compliments Esther on her high levels of emotional intelligence, or EI. And Esther indeed counts EI as one of her strengths.

Esther is starting to feel stuck in her career. She just hasn’t been able to demonstrate the kind of performance her company is looking for. So much for emotional intelligence, she’s starting to think. The problem is that by focusing only on Esther’s sociability, sensitivity, and likability, they’re missing critical elements of emotional intelligence that could make her a stronger, more effective leader.

Esther might lack: the ability to deliver difficult feedback to employees, the courage to ruffle feathers and drive change, the creativity to think outside the box. But these gaps aren’t a result of Esther’s emotional intelligence; they’re simply evidence that her EI skills are uneven.

If Esther had strength in conflict management, she would be skilled in giving people unpleasant feedback. And if she were more inclined to influence, she would want to provide that difficult feedback as a way to lead her direct reports and help them grow.

How to develop your EI

EI s an “inside job” that begins with the foundation of enhanced self-awareness into your unique patterns of behavior that then fuels your choices with the goal of supporting your values and purpose in living, according to Marilynn Jorgensen. She says turn inward, be curious about who you really are, and then show up to support the change you wish to be in the world. This self-study can encourage and support your tools of choice and then allow you to reach your potential in giving your best self.

Marek Helstrom suggests that you notice when you set yourself up for low EI moments that become low EI habits – two common traps:

1) Passing critical judgment on others (e.g. “How stupid is that?” or“What in the world was he/she thinking?”)  This kind of comment is a crutch to elevate or affirm one’s superiority over another person’s choices, intelligence…. The EI moment begins when we learn to recognize the habit and then re-train ourselves to restrain from making any negative comment at all.

2) Taking offense. In today’s world we have been taught to take offense over the most trivial matters.  From taking offense, and feeling offended, people quickly escalate to criticism, judgment, bitterness, and unforgiveness, hurting which hurts relationships and even our own health.  The EI moment:  Notice the other person’s comment or action, and instead of taking offence and taking it personally, just consider it as data:  “Hmmmm, that’s interesting.”  Or, “I wonder what’s going on for her?”  Or, “Wow, he must be really stressed…”

Cheryl McKenzie-Cook advises that you start by noticing what you’re feeling, right now. Observe without judgment (evaluating feelings as “good” “bad” “right” “wrong) or trying to ‘fix’ anything; just notice your emotions a few times per day.

Want some help? Click here to download our cheat-sheet list and over 100-words that can help you describe the emotions you might start to notice day-to-day.

The coaching and training team at Thriving Talent are certified practitioners of the ESCi assessment and if you need help developing your leaders, please contact us.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.




© 2022 Thriving Talent Sarl