Sharpening Professional Effectiveness

We have all heard of IQ (intelligence quotient) which measures our intellectual ability and often predicts school performance. However, the idea of Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ) is not as well known or understood even though it may determine as much as 80% of a person’s life success. IQ determines about 20%.

The idea of Emotional Intelligence (EI) was proposed in the early 1980’s. Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence (1995) popularized the idea in the United States. Since that time, many books have been written about what it is, why it is important, and how we can improve it.

Here are some things we know about EI:

• It is not set or innate like IQ which represents our cognitive ability.

• The need for EI increases with increased levels of responsibility.

• It influences success in 4 areas of life: performance or productivity, health, relationships, and quality of life.

• It determines who excels in any given job and is the basis for outstanding leadership.

Very simply, EI looks a how you handle yourself and your relationships. Goleman noted in a later book, Working with Emotional Intelligence (1998), that while IQ has been steadily rising over the years, EI has been declining. There is a concern that children are more emotionally troubled than previous generations and will soon be entering the workforce without basic competence in personal and social areas of their life.

Negative emotions or distress erodes mental abilities and decreases EI. The percentage of time individuals feel negative emotions at work is one of the strongest predictors of dissatisfaction and how likely they are to quit. In addition, dissonance or lack of harmony in an environment lowers productivity and achievement.

Moods influence how effective people are – adults or children. Upbeat moods boost cooperation, fairness, and performance in the work place or at home.

Your emotional center (the limbic system) in the brain functions as an open-loop which depends on external sources to manage itself. Of all emotional signals, smiles are the most contagious. Genuine laughter instantly interlocks limbic systems between people. It signals trust, comfort, and a shared sense of the world. When people feel good, they work at their best. An environment that is resonant cultivates an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.

Goleman streamlined the EI model into two large areas: Personal and Social Competence in his book, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence (2002). Each area has two domains or dimensions with specific competencies in each area:

Personal Competence – how we manage ourselves.

I. Self-Awareness

• Emotional self-awareness

• Accurate self-assessment

• Self-confidence

II. Self-Management

• Emotional self-control

• Transparency

• Adaptability

• Achievement

• Initiative

• Optimism

Social Competence – how we manage relationships

I. Social Awareness

• Empathy

• Organizational awareness

• Service

II. Relationship Management

• Inspirational leadership

• Influence

• Developing others

• Change catalyst

• Conflict management

• Building bonds

• Teamwork and collaboration

The premise is that since emotions are at the heart of effective leadership, the key to being an effective leader lies in learning to handle yourself and your relationships in a positive manner.

Self-awareness is the foundation upon which self-management, social awareness and relationship management are built. These are not innate abilities. They are learned and can be retained through motivation and intentional effort, practice, and repetition. Learning stimulates new neural connections between the emotional and thinking parts of the brain. Self-Awareness is necessary for understanding and self-management. Increased satisfaction and productivity follow.

Improving your Emotional Intelligence helps you be more effective in your career and have a more fulfilling personal life because it:

• Motivates you to do your best

• Strengthens trust to build productive relationships

• Builds resilience to perform under pressure

• Increases confidence and courage to make good decisions

• Builds strength to persevere through adversity

• Clarifies your vision to create the future.

To start a learning plan to improve your EI, carefully answer these two questions:

1. What is you ideal vision of yourself – the person you want to be – and who you are now? Think about your strengths and values as you answer this question. Your learning plan helps you build on your strengths while reducing the gaps between your ideal self and reality.

2. Who are supportive people that can help you make change possible? A coach helps you see things you might be missing, affirms progress, provides for experimentation and practice, and lets you know how you are doing.

It is important to take time to make choices that will enhance your level of happiness and increase your EI starting today. The choice is up to you.