Being successful in business requires more than just a good education, years of experience and smarts. It also requires insight, social skill, and sensibility. To climb the career ladder, leaders must also be able to control impulses, read situations and people, influence others, and manage stressful situations. Easier said than done.
The EQ Advantage
Researchers call this emotional know-how Emotional Intelligence or EQ. Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills that include one's ability to recognize their own impulses and moods and the ability to read situations accurately and respond most appropriately depending on the situation or person they are dealing with.
You've probably heard it called "soft skills," "people smarts," "social savvy," or "street smarts." EQ is all of this and more.
According to research conducted by Daniel Goleman, author of several bestsellers on EQ, "In a study of outstanding leaders, we found that emotional competence accounted for more than 80% of the ingredients of star performance."
Emotional Intelligence initiatives in the workplace have been linked to:
- Greater productivity
- Increased sales
- Employee happiness
- Customer satisfaction
- Effective leadership
Being strong in technical skills creates value for the organization, but at some point, those who lack Emotional Intelligence fail to achieve the results they need to within their departments, from their peers or in themselves. Some will hit a plateau in their career, some will change jobs frequently and some are forced to step down from management responsibility.
Stumped to understand why many overlook the role their behavior has on others and how the good they set out to do is swallowed up by the pitfalls common to those with low EQ:
- Contradictory behavior/Mixed messages
- Short temper
- Inappropriate comments
- Low self-awareness/Out of touch
It is always difficult to see well-meaning employees trample their own good intentions through misguided efforts and a lack of understanding of what makes people want to work with them.
Having EQ is contagious, acting as a catalyst to enhance the work experience for everyone. Therefore, developing Emotional Intelligence in one often benefits a whole team. And because EQ is a collection of skills that can be learned, real results can be seen from increased awareness, practice, and coaching.
Using EQ to Decode Challenging Behaviors
Developing Emotional Intelligence in others does require your ability to build the willingness in another to look at their own behavior and be open to making a change. Consider some of the characteristics that coaches say make some employees nearly uncoachable and the EQ development needs behind them.
The Don't-See-the-Need-to-Change, or Always-a-Victim, or Denial-of-the-Problem-Employee
Employees who fall into one of these categories are products of low Self-Awareness. They see the performance issue as someone else's misinterpretation or perpetually play the victim. These employees have "blind spots" that keep them from seeing the issue from a reality-based, objective point of view.
No matter how vividly the problem and their contributing behavior is described to them, they lack the skills to self-examine, to identify the drivers behind their behavior, and the insight to know how to fix it.
Like all EQ skills, Self-Awareness is a competency that can be taught but it is difficult, in-depth and time intensive. This is an area where one-on-one coaching can be very successful. A multi-rater (360°) feedback tool can also be very helpful.
The Defensive or Emotional Employee
We've all known the challenge of dealing with employees who deflect all responsibility for the bad stuff. Or the individual who complicates and distracts a performance discussion by erupting into a puddle of emotion.
Then there's the special case who does both. These employees have an excuse ready before you're done talking. There are few pet peeves more commonly cited by managers than an employee who always finds a responsible party to foot the blame.
Behind this annoying behavior lies low Self-Control.
By failing to control their initial reaction and allowing their desire to distance themselves to take over, these individuals emotionally hijack themselves. Their ability to actively listen and critically think about the feedback being presented to them is impaired by their impulse to flee or from the discomfort of the situation or attack the messenger.
The Disengaged Employee
These are the clock watchers. The "do as little as possible for as long as possible" employee. Somehow, somewhere their batteries died. But they keep outside appearances tidy enough so no one gets close enough to find out. This sad scenario often describes employees who have low Optimism and Influence.
At some point, these employees stopped believing in their ability to impact positive change. They see Influence as being in the hands of others. They have lost the passion to speak up and step up for what they want. For these employees, a willingness to receive performance feedback is not the issue, caring enough to change is.
Learning to see the EQ need behind the problematic behavior helps leaders to shift from focusing on the symptoms to digging deeper into root causes and long-term,
Employees who feel understood have a much greater motivation and capacity for change. Suddenly a "lost cause" employee has the potential for improvement after all.
If you desire to shift from managing to coaching, it's time to learn more about harnessing the power of Emotional Intelligence. This brand of smarts can be learned.