I have always been interested in learning more about myself and how to interact better with others. As human beings, we have many things that make us who we are and affect the way we act and interact with others. There are many survey instruments and tests that can help explain our mental, emotional and behavioral DNA. A few examples are IQ tests, DISC, Myers Briggs, 16 PF, and McQuaig. Then, there is the whole right brain, left brain theory: are you more creative in nature or analytical in your thinking? I believe I have taken almost every one of the surveys in the past ten years and some of them twice. In addition to all of these, one of the fields of study that really intrigues me is the theory of emotional intelligence. I spent about a year working on this, facilitated by one of my trusted mentors. With all that motivates our behavioral characteristics, I think this is one of the least understood subjects, but an area that can have a big impact on how we conduct ourselves and work with others.
Wikipedia’s definition of emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. Drawing from the work of Target Training International, EI is a measure of your ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of your emotions and others’ in order to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity.
There have been many that have theorized on the subject, but a lot of the work we see is based on the work of Daniel Goleman and focuses on EI as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance.
Goleman's model outlines five main EI constructs:
- Self-awareness – the ability to know one's emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
- Self-regulation – involves controlling or redirecting one's disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances as well as the propensity to suspend judgment before acting.
- Social skill – a proficiency in managing relationships to move people in the desired direction and building networks.
- Empathy - considering other people's feelings and makeup especially when making decisions.
- Motivation - driven to achieve for the sake of achievement with energy and persistence and a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status.
Emotional competencies are not innate talents, but learned capabilities to work on and can be developed to achieve outstanding performance. Individuals are born with a general emotional intelligence that determines their potential for learning emotional competencies.
The great news about EI is, no matter where you are today, you can work to improve over time with some effort and coaching. The group I worked with tested at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year. It was amazing to see the progress some individuals made.
Here are a few tips to improve your EI:
1. Understand the importance of emotional intelligence in all aspects of your life.
2. Learn to recognize stress triggers and how to deal with them.
3. Be open-minded, intellectually curious and agreeable.
4. Be outgoing and empathetic.
5. Be conscientious and prepared to deliberate.
6. Improve your communication skills.
7. Be Optimistic.
Sharing your EI score with others is one way to make you aware of the behavior you are trying to change. Journaling is another, listing what you worked on today, what went well, and what you will try to improve tomorrow.
So consider testing your emotional intelligence to establish a baseline if you have not already. If you have, let me know how it is going and consider taking a survey again if it has been more than a year.
Good luck and lead well, Alan