“All learning has an emotional base.” – Plato

Emotional intelligence (EQ) has been attributed as key to personal, organisational and leadership success. Categorised a ‘soft skill‘, the evolving modern workforce has seen a rise in demand for EQ, where possessing intelligence and technical capability alone is now deemed insufficient.

EQ, defined by Peter Savaloy and John Mayer (no not that John Mayer…) in the 1990s is the ability to:

  • Recognise, understand and manage our emotions and,
  • Recognise, understand and influence the emotions of others

Breaking down EQ further into four domains and competencies:

EQ table

How does EQ make better leaders, and what impact does EQ have on leading your reinvention?

1. Confidence and Competence

Reinvention occurs through a repeated process of learning, application and reviewing (synonymous with the build-measure-learn feedback loop). Leading change requires emotionally intelligent attributes including: self-awareness and regulation, motivation, empathy and positivity.

Furthermore, personal development coach Matthew Hussey  adds to this with the importance of confidence and competence. In unison competence and confidence are vital elements of EQ; contributing to a person’s ability to understand themselves, assess their surrounding environment and respond accordingly.

A former colleague of mine undertook studies and decided to leave his job to work in a new industry. Being in his 50s was no deterrent as his desire was invoked by competence and confidence.

Going against the status quo or taking the unconventional road requires courage. Courage encapsulates the confidence and competence necessary to make difficult decisions and deal with the trough of sorrow. As physical creating better leaders and vehicles for change involves practice amongst another aspect, “why?”.

2. Inspiring with “Why” to Execute “How” 

“People don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it” – Simon Sinek,  Start with Why

Generating action based on repeated loyalty is achieved by leaders with an ability to understand one emotionally intelligent trait: identifying their why and inspiring others with it.

Translating vision begins with ‘why‘ and aligns with everything you do. Intrinsically motivated, people emotionally connect with a undying belief and purpose in something bigger and better.  Common examples include Apple or the human rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.  People don’t follow Apple for its products or Martin Luther King Jr for what and who he is per se, but what they represent.

People act upon inspiring leaders because want to, not because of pressure or incentives. It is here where EQ transforms why into how, vision into mission, dreams into actionable steps. Failure of ‘why’ indicates that actions of ‘how’ have been unsuccessful; becoming a pivot or persevere situation. The underlying sense of why does not change.

Working towards your why means not compromising on it and the EQ to follow through whether managing a team of 5 or 500, or navigating personal change .  My why is to empower you through education and personal development, to seek  purpose and fulfilment in alignment to your why.

3. Managing Conflict 

Managing conflict requires large dosages of EQ.  Emotionally intelligent leaders or agents of change will manage conflict through unyielding sense of collaboration and persistence based on their why.

Leaders with high EQ and a clear connection of purpose will reason and measured response.  Take SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. In a recent report, Telsa was seen to have 30% more injuries compared to industry standards.

Musk’s responded by hiring thousands more employees, adding an extra shift in to reduce overtime and followed up via email which included:

Going forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception. I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet every injured person as soon as they are well, so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform.

Each action performed by Musk had clear intention, was empathetic and showed that he led by example. Great PR was generated for both Musk and Tesla as being a great leader, but also being  a supportive environment to work in.

Gain more EQ?

It’s evident that EQ is critical in today’s workforce but also in our own personal development. If EQ is seen as a muscle that can be exercised, we can improve our ability to be more emotionally attuned to others and our surrounding environment by:

  • Broader experiencesGetting uncomfortable and placing yourself in situations you usually wouldn’t leads to learning and growth. Expanding our experiences gives opportunity for new skills, perspectives and ideas to flourish.
  • Observing and Practice: Observing people with high EQ or that respond to a vary of different situations well is a good start. I tend to be a prolific reader and see that as a means for learning to excel. During both positive and negative situations taking note of other people’s behaviour, cues and words can give insight into what someone is feeling or wanting to express. If it’s all too much in the moment, try observing first, then analyse afterwards.
  • Reflecting: Writing daily allows for a daily dump of thoughts, experiences and learnings onto paper. Research shows that we learn more by writing things down.
  • Asking: 360 degree feedback is a good place to start. Though a little awkward, asking others about our behaviour, where we have done well, where we haven’t or why they believe ‘X’ about us (whether good or bad) is like getting water out of the horses mouth. Ask and you shall receive.

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