In my career, I have heard HR professionals say many times, “How could someone so smart, be so stupid when it comes to people?” What is this all about?
Most people believe that if someone has a high IQ and does really well in school (i.e., they are smart), they’ll be a good leader and have a highly successful career. Although being smart and having a high IQ should help an individual’s leadership and career success, it’s certainly not a guarantee. Every HR professional knows at least one manager with a high IQ and a tendency to open their mouths and say something divisive that gets them in trouble repeatedly.
Many times, we work with a leader who is high on IQ, intelligence, and low on EQ, emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.
To be a good leader, you have to have the ability to build relationships with your staff, peers, and senior leaders. To accomplish this, that means having a grasp on your EQ. To help build your EQ, you first have to know the four major components of emotional intelligence:
Understand your own emotions: The ability to identify and understand your own emotions is the first key to success. When you understand your own emotions, you can recognize them and see how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and increase your self-confidence.
Manage your own emotions: A key to being a great leader is the ability to change quickly when you recognize that your behaviors are inappropriate and aren’t helping you build relationships or accomplish your goals. Everyone experiences the feeling of anger from time to time. People who have high emotional intelligence recognize that expressing that anger and telling someone what they really think may or may not help them accomplish their goals. Because of this, they consciously make the decision to wait before talking to this individual so they can communicate their feelings without the emotion of intense anger and achieve their desired results.
Accurately interpret the emotions of others: The second step is to be able to interpret the communication of others, both verbally and nonverbally, and figure out what emotion is behind your counterpart’s communication.
Manage the relationship of self and others: When you have a high EQ, you have the ability to understand what you’re feeling, the ability to manage your emotions, the ability to understand what others are feeling or thinking, and, most importantly of all, you recognize that what you do and say has a significant impact on actions, communication, and your counterpart’s feelings.
Studies by Daniel Goleman, the author of several books in the areas of emotional and social intelligence, confirmed that a person’s IQ is only responsible for 10 to 20 percent of an individual’s career success. That means there’s hope for everyone. Now you have the answer to those times you’ve asked yourself, “How could someone so brilliant be so stupid when it comes to working with people?” To be a great leader, it helps to have a strong IQ, but it helps even more to have a high EQ.
The next step is applying these components. Here’s some tips on how you can boost your EQ, build even stronger relationships, and become an even more successful leader.
- Listen: My father once told me, people like you so much better when they do the talking. It’s so true. By listening to others, you indirectly tell them that you value their opinion, and you care about them as a person. Almost always, when you do a great job listening, you’ll not only show that you value the other individual, but you’ll learn something new in the interaction.
- Identify emotion: The ability to identify and understand not only your emotions, but the emotions of your counterpart, is a critical component in building emotional intelligence.
- Observe and understand nonverbal behavior: Although it is difficult to determine an emotion based on one gesture displayed by your counterpart, you can fairly accurately determine emotion by observing all of their nonverbal messages.
- Walk in their moccasins: One of the best ways to identify and understand emotions is to ask yourself, “If this situation being described by someone else was happening to me, what would I feel?” When you can put yourself into someone else’s shoes, you will find it easier to understand emotion and relate to others.
- Be willing to quickly adapt and change: After recognizing your emotions and the feedback you receive about other’s emotions, you need to have the ability to adapt and change when it’s necessary. A great example of this is when you start to provide a solution to your significant other in hopes of helping them solve a problem, but you then quickly learn they don’t want your help. What they really want is for you to listen. Leaders without a high EQ need to be told to shut up and listen.
- Know your weaknesses: When you know your weaknesses, it’s easier to be aware of your shortcomings and how you may need to quickly adapt when you receive feedback from your counterpart.
- In times of stress or challenge, get calmer: In times of conflict or stress, people who are high in emotional intelligence have the ability to get calmer, say the appropriate things and take the appropriate actions to resolve the conflict or relieve the stress. Ultimately, their goal is to not only resolve the conflict but build an even stronger relationship in the process.
- Ask others for feedback: Asking for feedback is a sign of confidence and strength. Being able to act on the feedback and adapt how you interact with others to build even stronger relationships is the evidence that you not only understand emotional intelligence but that you are able to effectively manage relationships.
Remember, leadership is about other people. By applying these 8 tips you can raise your EQ and build stronger relationships and achieve your personal and organizational goals.