When making your mark on the business world, many leaders reveal their secret: a high IQ. What these moguls do not understand is that most successful professionals thrive in their respective fields due to their EQ — not IQ.
EQ (or emotional intelligence) is the heightened awareness of others’ emotions, including your own. This vital trait goes beyond leaders trying to gauge an employee’s mood — it allows leaders to carefully examine business situations and approach them appropriately. Assessing the emotional element of a situation, whether positive or negative, will help you keep employees in line and understand their mindset or behavior.
It is also a powerful tool that pushes leaders to get things done. Over the years I have seen the positive effects of EQ when working alongside leaders in companies large and small. Their ability to read employees’ emotional state, reactions, and stress levels helps these men and women manage their teams with a strategy that is at once thoughtful and compassionate, but also direct and with trackable outcomes.
From my experience, I want to share a few valuable traits that a leader with high EQ has in addition to some actionable tactics to help you lead with more emotional intelligence.
1. Reading employees’ emotional strengths and weaknesses.
The value of having a high IQ has greatly diminished. One of the main factors is due to the fact that information and data are readily available via the internet. However, you cannot find your employees’ emotional strengths and weaknesses via a quick Google search. Emotional insights are not something that the internet readily provides.
The next time you and your team have a informal or strategic meeting, carefully analyze who interacts with others and who stays quiet. Who takes initiative and who has to be directed? Yes, some people are naturally more shy than others, but often those employees who are disconnected have a dissatisfaction with their job and could be on their way out. You will track these same attitudes when it’s time to go back to work. Some proactively consider the needs of their clients or go above and beyond the work. Others do the bare minimum, demonstrating zero drive. Having the skill to be able to identify this activity only strengthens a leader’s perspective, not to mention helping them to weed out silently dissenting employees.
2. Knowing your own emotional strengths and weaknesses
When advising the CEO of a large international company in Tuscon, Arizona, I witnessed him interact with his employees in what he thought was a casual and comfortable setting. Needless to say, it was anything but comfortable. His approach was so aggressive, critical, and intimidating that his employees hardly said anything except for what they thought “the boss wanted to hear.” I could only imagine what he was like while reprimanding an employee one-on-one. After quite a bit of this, I couldn’t take it anymore and stealthily pulled him to the side and explained to him that, quite frankly, he was being a bit of a jerk to his employees. I don’t think I will ever forget the look on his face. His shocked expression proved he had absolutely no idea how his behavior was being read by his employees. Thankfully this was an “aha” moment for him, and after that he made a concerted effort to tone down his behavior and soften his aggressive approach.
On a regular basis, it is critical for leaders to carefully analyze their behavior and understand how they are viewed by employees. From this analysis, look closely at your pros and cons. This objective assessment of your own EQ will enable you as a leader to tap into known strengths and unearth hidden weaknesses for further development.