In our lifetimes we have watched the emergence of a new area of expertise in our management principles. We were trained, and studied in the management philosophies and the organizational development theories which provided us strong rational intelligence to process and make leadership decisions – and we have done just that! We learned Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and made sure our workers were provided basics – food, clothing, shelter. We ensured our higher performing employees reached higher levels of the pyramid. When necessary, we improvise and solve problems with much creativity – another component of rational intelligence.

In more recent years the idea of emotional intelligence has arrived. EQ recruits our emotions to process our experience – engaging the ever-popular “gut reaction” to the business community. The EQ quotient is connection – where we are in communion with others without ever losing ourselves. In other terms, we embrace our own humanity and bring that to the world. I imagine there are several of you wondering why this would matter in your role as a leader in your organization, and I commend you for still being here as I expound on the four essential components of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

We now operate in a global business community. The bar has been raised, and working inside your EQ is a distinguishing characteristic in a competitive marketplace. Our emotions are the connection between understanding where I am, and where others are coming from – a key component in establishing trust in any relationship. Trust is the first of our four components, and crucial to a successful relationship.

Let’s go back to those places in your life where you are the follower. How do you feel in that role? Is your leader offering you enough motivation/reward for your contributions? If not, have you communicated with him/her about this? If not, why not? The questions could go from there – and often do in a one-on-one coaching experience. For now, however, let’s turn the tables and put your leader hat back on. As a leader, do you proclamate or demonstrate? Do you love yourself enough to step aside and allow your team to shine? The second component of Emotional Intelligence is self-awareness. Understanding that your role as a leader defines the team, and knowing when you are a CHEER-leader is acute awareness of stepping back and allowing others to bring their gifts to the team.

The third area of EQ, and the one which brings the most baggage is self-control. Control is a mighty powerful word, and is only amplified when you combine it with emotions. Self-control is best emulated by a leader who engages each individual’s best capacities – including your own, and those of your team. Exercising good self-control means being your best self – defined as inter-independent, not independent.

In my business we believe that everyone plays a role as a leader and a follower somewhere in their lives. This means that we all have the opportunity to measure leadership through different eyes.
As a leader your skills are constantly being evaluated. As a follower, you bring a critical eye to those in the lead. As you look through those eyes, ask yourself this question, “Can I walk in that person’s shoes? Could I tell their story with the same passion they do?” When your answer is ‘yes’ you will understand the final component of EQ – empathy.

Trust, self-awareness, self-control and empathy – four very powerful words! Understanding them was enough for many years of successful leadership, but not anymore. As you realize your own emotional intelligence, your own EQ, be proud of wherever you are on the scale of each of these components, and dedicate yourself to moving forward on all areas. After all, we are either standing still or moving forward. And, I assure you, the world around us is moving forward whether we are or not!

As leaders in today’s climate, you are being pressed to do more with less. Your time is being taxed, your employees are stressed, and the bottom line is the focus of the business ownership. Understanding EQ gives you the leg up on employee issues, a step forward in managing your time as your energy isn’t spent sorting out what is going on – you are already aware of the best use of your resources and you are implementing before anyone asks! Knowing your own level of emotional intelligence isn’t easy, and it is rich with payoff in career advancement and self fulfillment. In other words, it’s an investment that will give returns for years to come. Please do let me know how it emerges for you.

For more information and further reading on Emotional Intelligence, visit our online library.

Download Article (PDF)