Help me understand emotional intelligence

What is emotional intelligence?


What is emotional intelligence?

What is emotional intelligence?

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Annie Mackee and Relly Nadler are prominent published authors and researchers in the field of emotional intelligence. Nadler, through his research and published in his book – Leading with Emotional Intelligence said that IQ alone is not enough for leadership success.


IQ is your cognitive and analytical ability.  A lot of people get hired through IQ and experience and a lot of people derail because they fail to understand and develop their own emotional intelligence.



Emotional Intelligence refers to your ability to understand and manage yourself and others. Emotional intelligence helps you keep your job and grow your career.  Whether you like it or not, you will have to learn how to deal with people, their emotions, what makes them tick and manage your own in the process as well.




Are You Born with Emotional Intelligence or is it Learned?


Some researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while others claim it is an inborn characteristic. While IQ is relatively fixed, we believe EQ can be developed. In order to improve your emotional intelligence, it is important to first know where you are in the emotional intelligence scale.



  • Once you know what your strengths and areas of improvement are, you can improve your emotional intelligence by focusing on one or two areas to develop.  Try not to be overwhelmed by the data, choose only one or two areas that you want to further strengthen or develop


  • Next, ask your direct reports, bosses, peers to do an assessment of your emotional intelligence. Compare their answers to your own self assessment


  • Identify 1-2 areas that you want to focus.  Do not try to change everything at once.  Develop new ways of responding to people, use new behaviors and consistently practice. Overtime, you will learn new habits.


  • In order to improve your emotional intelligence, work with a peer coach or hire an executive coach.  We all know that left to our own devices, we do not really know how to change our behavior. Find an accountability partner, someone who will hold you accountable to the change that you want to see in yourself.


At our emotional intelligence workshops, Dr. Nadler and I ask the participants questions to trigger their knowledge of the topic. A sample question reads: “One of your co-workers has a habit of taking credit for your work and this bothers you.


How do you respond?


Take this short quiz and figure out your own emotional intelligence:


  1. Highlight your co-worker’s comments in the discussion and add that you personally have been working on this very issue.
  2. Make a complaint about the behavior to your supervisor.
  3. Talk about your coworker behind his back.
  4. Keep quiet and let it pass. You do not want to cause any conflict.


Yes, it is a rather intellectual concept, but it is all about understanding and managing your emotions. You can learn more about emotional intelligence by taking the quiz or attending one of our workshops.



How can I tell if my boss is lacking in emotional intelligence?


Does my boss lack emotional intelligence?You already know it.  Think about your best boss. Let’s examine his or her behavior, shall we? Think about why you consider this person to be your best boss. Think about the relationship you have. As you answer these items, mostly likely you will say this is not the boss who micro-managed you, who embarrassed you or did not provide you with learning opportunities. This is not the boss who made you feel small. This is not the boss who was impatient.



Rather, this was a boss who cared about you as a person. This boss was concerned about developing you.  They  managed their emotions especially when they were angry, they did not let it out on others.  Your boss encouraged you to achieve goals that you may not even think you can achieve and gave you the support and tools to succeed.  Your boss fostered positive relationships with others and encouraged you to do the same. You will likely say you had a strong emotional connection with that boss. This boss most likely had high emotional intelligence.



You don’t park your emotions in the parking lot when you come to the office every day. You bring your emotions with you. Emotions are like the flu. When the boss enters the room in a bad mood, everybody catches that mood. The tension and stress in the office increases. Fear increases. People start looking over their shoulders, afraid to make mistakes and are paralyzed in making decisions. Productivity goes down, job satisfaction goes down, attrition goes up.



Whereas if you have a boss with high emotional intelligence, the environment will be far more pleasant. This boss is willing to develop you, values your contributions and sees you as a person. He does not see you as just a subordinate. When you have this type of boss with a high emotional intelligence, you will most likely want to stay and do your best. You have a pleasant and rewarding environment. Studies have shown that 50% of life satisfaction comes from the relationship with your boss. If you don’t have a relationship that’s positive, most likely, you will leave.



My social media manager told me about a company where the boss needed emotional intelligence help. She berates her employees, shows them little respect and talks about them behind their backs. She thinks this is normal…everybody should expect it. She also has a high attrition rate. Only one person has stayed longer than a year. That person is a remote worker 800 miles away.





Help me understand emotional intelligence and self-control in leaders.  Why are they important?




Why do I need to understand emotional intelligence in leaders?




We have all read about very smart and intelligent leaders, politicians, celebrities or athletes at the top of their game getting involved in scandals due to apparent lack of self-control or anger management issues.


If somebody excels at emotional intelligence, they are able to control and redirect their emotions. Do you unconsciously wear gloves to work and are ready to defend and verbally punch anyone who disagrees with you?




What are some ways to handle your negative emotions? Take this short quiz and find out:

  1. Take a break and eat ice cream or chocolate, this will makes you happy.
  2. Take a short nap.
  3. Talk to your best friend.
  4. Meditate for 10 minutes.
  5. Walk around the block for at least 20 minutes.
  6. Continue working, you do not have time to handle your feelings.
  7. Lay in your couch and watch TV



If you answered yes to # 2, 3, 4, 5, you are handling your emotions constructively. Passive activities like snacking on junk food, watching TV or suppressing your negative feelings will only make your situation worse.



Think about the last time you ignored your feelings, did it just simply go away?  Or did you just bury it? or did it blow up on something totally unrelated?




How can emotional intelligence help me in my career?




How can emotional intelligence help me in my career?IQ and your relevant skills and experience will get your resume reviewed and if you are lucky, perhaps get you an interview.   Emotional Intelligence plays a key factor in getting you hired, promoted and will help you be successful in your career, in your relationships and overall well-being.  Nadler says improving your emotional intelligence can make the difference between being an average employee and STAR performer, being in the top 10% of your group.



Lets look at the four major definitions of emotional intelligence and how they relate to your career:



1. Understand Yourself – be aware of own feelings and how these feelings affect your performance.  Know when you need a break, know your peak productivity and creative cycles and adjust your most intense work or decision times to these cycles.  Take the assessment and know that you are not perfect. Work on improving 1 or 2 behavioral areas until they become habits or success patterns.  Work on presenting yourself with confidence, not arrogant or forceful.



2.  Manage Yourself – your direct reports want to have confidence in a boss who has emotional self-control, one who does not yell, curse or openly criticizes or alienates others.  They want to trust you and know that you are not perfect and don’t expect them to be perfect either.  Your bosses want someone who can adapt to new challenges or conflict, takes risks, initiative and sets high standards.



3. Understand Others – your peers and bosses would like you to have empathy, be open to diverse opinions, understand the political scenario and be proactive about addressing your customers needs.



4.Manage Others – your bosses and direct reports would like you to develop your team, inspire and influence effectively, communicate, handle conflict and collaborate with others.  Your peers want to have someone who can team with them.



As you can see, emotional intelligence is not a new concept nor is it difficult to learn.  You are probably doing some, if not most of these behaviors to advance your career. Working with a trained executive coach on these behaviors can help make the difference between going stale, steady or being classified as “well placed” vs a “rock star”.



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