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Your Career and Emotional Intelligence
by Freda Turner, Ph.D.

 
   
 
   

Paul was one of the youngest CEOs in the banking industry. Through Paul’s leadership, his bank was the 3rd highest in the nation for asset performance. He was shocked when the board of directors demanded his resignation. His shortcoming was poor emotional intelligence. Paul had tried to force out employees he did not like, selectively invited employees to social events, played favoritism with choice assignments and unfairly divided the workload. The Board of Directors had challenged Paul on several occasions regarding his treatment and management of employees but Paul never changed his behaviors.

Six months after Paul’s forced resignation, the federal government hired him to turn around a failing savings and loan. Paul, as the new CEO and president, took the institution public and within four years had created a model turnaround with $1.5 billion in assets. However, once again Paul was confronted by the Board of Directors for his management style. Paul was only 41 years old when he was forced from the corporate world because of his inappropriate interpersonal skills.

A former head of Simon & Schuster was unable to stop publicly degrading and humiliating subordinates despite cautions from the CEO. Even though earnings increased under this leader, he was eventually fired when employees continued to resign due to his treatment and emotional outbursts.

A young engineer from an Ivy League school with an academic record of 4.0 was terminated after 14 months. The reason? ``He was brilliant at his work,'' the manager stated, ``but he displayed poor judgment by having inappropriate relations with a married CLIENT.” Despite advisement regarding the importance of presenting one’s self professionally, the engineer continued to date the organization’s clients.

News involving the firing of Coach Bobby Knight provided another example of how poor emotional intelligence can negatively influence one’s career. After warnings for his inappropriate emotional conduct, Coach Knight lost control of his emotions when a student said, “Hey, Knight, what’s up?” Coach Knight’s reaction to the student was inappropriate and unprofessional. The university finally realized they had been “managing around a problem,” and the Coach, while excellent on the playing field, simply had poor interpersonal skills and the university terminated him.

Emotional Intelligence Can be Learned

After the Center for Creative Leadership published that 27% of individuals display poor emotional intelligence (EQ) in the work environment, many organizations launched employee awareness-training programs in order to build an awareness that no matter how professionally or technically skilled an employee might be, if they practice ineffective workplace behaviors, they simply rob the organization of productivity.

In the book High Five, Dr. Ken Blanchard weaves a parable of Alan, a top producer with a need to always be the star. Alan is terminated because as his boss put it, “Alan, we need good producers who are good team players, too.” While Alan looked for a new job, he helps coach his son’s hockey team. After two star hockey players are unable to play, Alan sees that for the team to win consistently, every player on the team is essential. He finally understands winning teams need ALL players for competitive success.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability of an individual to deal successfully with other people, to manage one’s self, motivate others, understand one’s own feelings and appropriately respond to the everyday environment. In essence, EQ is about interpersonal skills. Researchers and management scholars have found that individuals with high EQ are better at creating positive outcomes. A decrease in productivity occurs with each claim of harassment, incident of temper flair ups, and/or any inappropriate workplace conduct.

Organizations That Have Launched EQ Training

During the year following EQ training, American Express managers increased business by 18.1% compared to 16.2% for those who had not received the EQ training. The Air Force also found that by using emotional intelligence measures to select recruiters, they increased their ability to predict successful recruiters by nearly three-fold. The immediate gain was a savings of $3 million annually.

In jobs that involve sales and mechanical skills, employees with high EQ are 12 times more productive than employees with low EQ. According to research, insurance sales professionals and account managers with high emotional intelligence are 127 percent more productive. Studies indicate that emotional intelligence accounts for 15%-45% of one’s job success whereas one’s IQ is said to account for less than 6%.

One test that measures EQ is called the Reuven Bar-On, costs about $30-$35, and takes about 40 minutes to complete. The results can point to aspects of one's social and self-management skills. Another instrument to help develop employee’s awareness of short comings is the 360 degree multi-rater instrument. The effectiveness of any instrument, however, is dependent on the recipient's willingness to change.

More careers derail due to poor emotional behaviors than lack of technical skills. Developing employees should be a top priority of any company, and by incorporating emotional intelligence into the training culture, the organization can enjoy higher productivity and less employee turnover of talented workers.


     
   
     
   

The Author

 

Freda Turner, Ph.D. is a researcher of best business practices and is affiliated with the University of Phoenix Doctoral and Graduate Studies Programs. She may be reached at fturner@email.uophx.edu.

     
   
     
   
Many more articles in Emotional Intelligence in The CEO Refresher Archives
     
   
     
   
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Copyright 2001 by Freda Turner. All rights reserved.

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