High performing leaders have high emotional intelligence, so it should come as no surprise than improving your emotional intelligence will make you a better leader.
Goleman (1998) discovered when studying the competence models of 188 large, global companies, that 90% of the difference between star performers and average performers in senior leadership positions could be attributed to Emotional Intelligence factors rather than cognitive abilities. A 360-degrees leadership performance study of 358 managers assessed by more than 1400 participants within Johnson & Johnson, confirms that the highest performing managers have significantly more Emotional Intelligence than other managers (Cavallo & Brienza, 2001).
The basic model of Emotional Intelligence has 5 components, of which 3 components relate to managing yourself and 2 relate to managing others. To manage yourself, you need self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation. To manage others, you need empathy and social skill (Henry, 2006).
Your self-awareness is your ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others. Self-regulation is your ability to control or redirect impulses and moods, and your ability to think before acting. Motivation is your passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status, it’s what is often called intrinsic motivation. Empathy is your skill in understanding and treating people according to their emotional reactions. Your social skills are how proficient you are in managing relationships and building networks. (Goleman 1998, Henry 2006)
You don’t improve emotional intelligence by reading a book, it requires a different type of learning (Goleman, 2016). And though it only takes 4 steps, improving your emotional intelligence is hard work and takes time:
Step 1: Ask for feedback
There are several questionnaires, some 360°-based, to evaluate your emotional intelligence. But even without these quantitative questionnaires, you could easily ask a few of your colleagues to answer five questions about you to give you already a qualitative insight:
Step 2: Choose 1 domain to work on
Improving can be hard work, and you will get a better grip on this if you focus on just one domain at a time. There are different ways to approach this, but 2 of them really stand out:
Step 3: Develop a learning plan
This is the most challenging step, because it is very idiosyncratic. There is no recipe book for what to do precisely. It’s clear that if you would want to increase your self-awareness, that assessing your emotions on a regular basis will help. Or that taking deliberate pauses before action will increase your self-regulation. Here are some tips to set up your learning plan.
Step 4: Practice, practice, practice
It’s obvious that practice is an essential activity when you want to change habits. It’s important to integrate this practice in every aspect of your life, and to combine it with your journaling. The benefit of keeping a daily journal is that your practice will become more effective and it reduces the chances of practicing the wrong or unproductive habits.
Making use of a coach can make this learning process even more effective. A good coach can help you starting from the first step. He can help you set up a more complete feedback questionnaire, support you in your choice of domain to work on and develop a learning plan together with you. When you practice a new habit, a coach can follow you in your development, keep you on the right track and support you in developing different exercises as you evolve in your skills.
Improving your emotional intelligence requires effort and takes time, but it’s a path worthwhile taking, certainly if your job has important emotional components. Talentsmart found that people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make an average of $29,000 more per year compared to people with a low degree of Emotional Intelligence. That is worth an investment.
Cavallo K. and Brienza D. (2001). Emotional Competence and Leadership Excellence at Johnson & Johnson: The emotional Intelligence and Leadership Study. Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations: http://www.eiconsortium.org/reports/jj_ei_study.html (accessed January 2nd, 2019)
Goleman, D. (1998) ‘How to be become a leader’, in Henry (2001). Creative Management, 2nd edn, London: Sage.
Goleman D. (2016). Five steps to increase emotional intelligence. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/five-steps-develop-emotional-intelligence-daniel-goleman/ (accessed on January 2nd, 2019)
Henry J. (2006). Creativity, cognition and development. Milton Keynes: The Open University
Unknown (unknown). About Emotional Intelligence. Talentsmart: http://www.talentsmart.com/about/emotional-intelligence.php (Accessed on December 27th, 2018)
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