Emotional intelligence crucial to meeting career goals
You've heard of IQ, but are you familiar with EQ?
Your EQ — also called your emotional intelligence — is your ability to manage yourself and your relationships with others so you can reach your goals as well as that of your employer. Research consistently demonstrates that how well you manage relationships is critical to reaching goals.
According to Adele Lynn, a Belle Vernon-based consultant and author of several EQ-related books, 89 percent of people who derail do so because of EQ issues (the balance who derail lack the technical skills of the job). Lynn says, “They are not communicating, collaborating, getting along with other teammates —which might not lead to termination, but will often lead to career stagnation.”
Those with low EQ have an impact on others that is not productive, that is interfering with getting the work done. If people are complaining about your management style, or they say you are not collaborating or sharing information those comments are EQ-related.
Is EQ something you can improve? Lynn believes you can.
“The easiest fix is when you have someone who probably has a good level of emotional intelligence. They are able to manage themselves and care about relationships, but they have been clueless of the impact a particular behavior was having on someone. Once they have awareness, they can fix it and restore the relationship. Actually, there are lots of people like that: if you tell them, they say, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn't realize it!' and they fix it.' This is true especially if they work with a coach or mentor and become aware of it. They may slip, but they will change overall,” Lynn says.
But others struggle to see why or how their behavior may be causing a problem. Even when you tell them, they lack awareness of why someone would consider the behavior troublesome. Says Lynn, “As their coach or mentor or friend, you're stuck with someone who can't really perceive it.”
The most important step in improving your EQ is getting greater awareness of your impact on others and how is that affecting achievement of your goals and your life in general. Lynn recommends that you talk with people you trust and who will be honest with you, or do a 360 assessment to get some feedback on your behavior. “Open yourself up to a mentor or coach. They can see and help you with things you may be blind to. If you have a process and a person who holds you accountable, you will improve,” says Lynn.
In her book “The EQ Difference: A Powerful Plan for Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work (AMACOM, 2005), Lynn says you can self-coach yourself to a higher EQ by thinking about outcomes and values.
“What outcomes do you want, and in what manner do you want to achieve those outcomes?” Lynn asks.
Then, you can choose from several recommended techniques, such as thinking rational thoughts to overcome your negative beliefs, or using humor as a mitigating force.
But the critical skill is always managing your emotions so that you do not react from emotion, but rather in a manner that is consistent with your intentions.
If you're concerned about potentially hiring someone with low EQ, Lynn recommends that you use behavior-based questions, then go deeper and inquire about motive. The described behavior as well as the motive should be congruent with your expectations.
For all employment-related decisions, it is important to recognize that EQ really is the differentiator. According to Lynn, “If you've got two great performers in terms of technical ability, it will be EQ that will be the differentiator.”