You Think You're Smart, but How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?

By Alan Gehringer

I have to share a funny story. A couple of weeks ago my wife placed a copy of a New York Times article 7K0A0752by Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence on my desk. Now the funny thing is, we have both taken the surveys, me several times, and we both have very high scores. But, I think she is feeling like I need a refresher, and I probably do. With that, let me share the key points Mr. Goelman points out in his article along with a few of my own.

Here is a short list of competencies you must have to be a successful leader:

  1. Self Awareness
    • Realistic Self Confidence: You must understand your own strengths and weaknesses and rely on others when necessary. Marcus Buckingham has been telling us for years to work to our strengths. We also need to admit when something is not our strength. 
    • Emotional Insight: You understand your feelings and triggers and take note of them before you get angry. A friend of mine taught me its like looking at a clear glass of water that goes grey when the anger emotions kick in. It takes at least twenty minutes to get back to normal after this happens. The key is to stop this reaction before it occurs.
  2. Self Management
    • Resilience: You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly. As a leader, people need to look to you for reassurance and stability. You set the tone for how others will react and feel. Be the calm in the storm.
    • Emotional Balance: You are able to moderate your reactions and responses and let others know what is wrong and how to proceed without getting emotionally involved in the situation. Stick to the facts and remain objective. 
    • Self-Motivation: You keep moving forward with the end game in mind despite the obstacles and setbacks. As leaders, it is our job to create hope and a picture of what success looks like in the midst of chaos.
  3. Empathy
    • Cognitive and emotional empathy: You can see things from different perspectives and help others to understand. You act in an honest and open manner, are approachable and work hard to make sure individuals are understood and heard.
    • Good listening: You give the other person your full attention and acknowledge him or her as he or she speaks, while waiting to formulate your response until the person is finished. Be in the moment as they teach in the “Fish” program.
  4. Relationship Skills
    • Compelling communication: You organize your thoughts in a clear and compelling manner that is persuasive and motivates others while creating clear expectations.
    • Team playing: People want to be on your team and feel comfortable with you. You have gone through the three stages starting with dependent, to independent, to intradependent where your efforts are in the best interest of the team and people know this.

A great leader must have knowledge, intelligence and vision but also must have the ability to identify and monitor emotions while managing relationships. Managing your emotional intelligence is not always easy, but if you are committed, it is something you can improve upon over time. Unlike IQ, we can increase our EI with effort, awareness and time.

If you have not taken an emotional intelligence survey, I encourage you to do so. I always find the results very interesting, and the better surveys give you suggestions on how to improve. 

Good luck and lead well, Alan


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Alan Gehringer


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