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Emotional Intelligence: The Other Acumen
Gets its Due

by Ellen Stuhlmann

 
   
 
   

There are some people who know not only exactly what to say, but when to say it and how to say it. They are always in full control of their emotions. They know instinctively how to motivate others. Call it poise, maturity, self-awareness. Or try a buzzword like emotional intelligence, which increasingly has gained attention as a defining attribute in today's most successful leaders.

"Emotional intelligence is really the ability to manage oneself and one's relationships with other people and that includes being highly self aware and being able to recognize that one's emotions impact behavior," says Dr. Annie McKee, director of leadership development services for management consulting firm Hay Group Inc., which also operates Emotional Intelligence Services.

The concept that there are multiple intelligences - beyond just pure intellect -- has been bandied about in research circles for more than 15 years, but was popularized in business circles in recent years by emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman, author of two books on emotional intelligence and an affiliate of Emotional Intelligence Services.

"Prior to that most people thought of intelligence in terms of intellectual acumen, but we've now realized that there are many ways that our brain processes emotional responses," says McKee.

EI and Success

Even more than sheer intelligence, "practical experience with executives indicates that emotional intelligence is the defining factor in success," says McKee. "If you are really serious about leading people and businesses, it's worth while to take a look at yourself and see where you are."

Career coach Charles M. Bolton agrees. "Emotional intelligence accounts for between 75 percent and 95 percent of executive success," says Bolton, president of Minneapolis-based The Bolton Group. What differentiates highly intelligent CEOs or top executives from their highly intelligent counterparts is their awareness of and ability to manage their own emotions and motivation. "The old fashioned term was wisdom and maturity," Bolton explains.

But emotional intelligence is more than just a personality trait, or even a handful of traits, says McKee. Based on studies of thousands of individuals and their performance data, Emotional Intelligence Services is able to cluster such behaviors into four major groups of competencies. They are:

  • Self-Awareness: "This deals with your own emotional state," says McKee. Emotionally intelligent people are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They have confidence and presence.

  • Self-management: Emotionally intelligent people are able to manage their own emotions. "The primary derailer of executives is a loss of self control," says McKee. "That can be temper tantrums or an inability to know when to say the right thing at the right time, or being swept over by emotions, either positive or negative," she says. In addition, the emotionally intelligent are able to express ideas in a way that others can understand.

  • Social awareness: The most identifiable competency in this area is empathy. "In this sense empathy is a little different than the clinical term," says McKee. "It is being able to read other people, to figure out how people are feeling and what's going on, so that you can be more effective."

  • Relationship skills: In addition to their other competencies, emotionally intelligent people have a handle on the traditional leadership competencies -- influence, communication, building bonds and change management, to name just a few. "But what we have found is that those typical leadership competencies can only be really developed if you've got the other three," says McKee.

Boosting Your EQ

The good news from career coaches is that improving your emotional intelligence is very much possible, albeit difficult. "You can't really improve your IQ," admits Bolton, "But you can develop your EQ, with awareness, coaching, reinforcement and motivation."

Emotional Intelligence Services has developed an individual change model, which can help people understand and improve their emotional intelligence, says McKee. "What we say is that in order for people to change these deep-seated behaviors, they have to really want to change and there has to be a motivating factor beyond just a business need," says McKee. "They have to understand what is their personal case for change and what in them is driving them to want to change these behaviors."

Using an emotional competence inventory, such as the one developed by McKee's group, executives can determine their strengths and weaknesses and identify changes they need to make. The model is detailed in their new book, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, and Annie McKee.

For most, though, emotional intelligence boils down to common sense, a fact McKee is quick to point out. "We all know it when we see it," says McKee. "And definitely know when it's not there."


     
   
     
   

The Author

 

Ellen Stuhlmann is Managing Director of ExecuNet. ExecuNet is recognized as the Internet's most comprehensive resource for effective career management, exclusively for executives and senior-level managers with salaries above $100,000. Founded in 1988 and online since 1995, ExecuNet is the nation's first and most respected online executive career site. ExecuNet is a community of senior level executives, and has served more than 50,000 executives and 5,000 companies and executive recruiters by posting more than 30,000 executive positions annually.

Reproduced with permission of ExecuNet.

     
   
     
   
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