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Emotional intelligence (EQ) is becoming an increasingly important consideration when hiring new employees and evaluating the potential of existing ones.  Given that our EQ  can influence our success at work (and in our personal lives), it’s important to understand what it is.

There are many schools of thought as to how to  best describe EQ.  Usually, it is viewed as a combination of inter-personal and intra-personal capabilities and as having a number of elements or categories.   I like the four key pillars set out below, each with their own set of competencies:

The four key pillars of EQ*

  • Self-awareness: emotional self-awareness
  • Self-management: emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, and a positive outlook
  • Social awareness: empathy and organizational awareness
  • Relationship management: influence, coach and mentor, conflict management, teamwork, inspirational leadership

“Scoring” highly in each category will likely mean that you are reliable, engaged and diligent. As well, you will have a positive outlook, be empathic and get along with people.  You’re also a problem-solver who welcomes challenges, and tends not to complain.  This sounds like the ideal employee, doesn’t it?  However,  a high EQ is not a guarantee of advancement.

If you feel you have a high EQ, but seem unable to climb the corporate ladder it may be that, all other reasons aside,  you are viewing EQ too simply.  That’s because many of the positive aspects of EQ come with  corresponding challenges.  For example, a positive and supportive manager with a high EQ  may delay providing difficult feedback to a subordinate or avoid challenging a superior on a critical issue.  This tendency to avoid conflict and risk does not drive organizational change, and it can also limit creativity and innovation.  Clearly, that’s not good for business.  As well, this safe approach to managing relationships does nothing to shine a light on the  manager as a true leader, capable of making tough or even unpopular decisions, and deserving of advancement.

When considering your own EQ, use the four pillars above to help you evaluate your natural inclinations and work to enhance the areas you feel are holding you back.  For example, could it be that your strong sense of empathy  is preventing you from addressing the abrasive behaviour of a team member whom you know is dealing with personal troubles?  If  so, by strengthening your conflict management skills, you would feel better equipped and more confident to tackle the issue.

Now, let’s imagine that during that difficult conversation, your subordinate becomes angry and defensive. Before you know it, she makes accusations about your own short-comings. This would call for strong emotional self-control on your part to keep your own anger in check so you can stay focussed on resolving the  matter at hand.  You could also draw from your competencies in the realm of influence as you help your subordinate understand why their current behaviour cannot continue.  Clearly, the stronger you are in each of the competencies, the better able you are to manage a variety of situations and make a valuable contribution to your company.

Over the next few weeks, look within yourself and try to become more cognisant of your choices in situations.  Look for patterns in your thoughts and behaviours.  How do you choose to respond or not respond to certain opportunities or challenges?  You can also look outwards to your colleagues,  subordinates and peers for their insight through a 360º evaluation. These can be extremely valuable due to the anonymity provided and their ability to be brutally honest.  Whichever route you choose, work to  understand the key areas  that may be holding you back and  create a strategy to address them.

To find out more about how Forge Coaching and Consulting can help you develop a stronger EQ, or for information about any aspect of coaching please contact (1) 905 873 9393  or visit www.forgecoachingandconsulting.com


*Source: More than Sound, LLC 2017

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