In an earlier post, we had shared surprising new research on the downside of high emotional intelligence (EI). But that does not make a good EQ any less desirable. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, 75% of careers are derailed due to emotional incompetence.

How then do we optimize the benefits of a high EQ? By understanding that it goes beyond sociability and sensitivity, and actually encompasses twelve skills grouped into four competencies, says Prof. Daniel Goleman, Rutgers University. Let’s explore how these learned or learnable skills impact leadership and working styles.

Self-awareness. This group includes the skill of emotional awareness, and is observable in leaders who recognize how their feelings affect them and their job performance. Their values often decide the best course of action. They are not only candid and authentic, but also speak with conviction about their vision.

Self-management. This group of competencies involves four distinct skills:

  • Emotional self-control. This lets people find ways to manage their emotions and impulses. Leaders with self-control stay calm and clear-headed while under stress.
  • Achievement orientation. Leaders with this skill have high standards not only for themselves, but for others too. They set measurable but challenging goals, and learn how to improve performance.
  • Positive outlook. Leaders with this skill see opportunity in situations where others see a setback. Their ‘glass half-full’ outlook leads them to expect that changes in the future will be for the better.
  • Adaptability. Such leaders can juggle multiple demands, but remain focused on a group’s goals. They are comfortable with the uncertainty, and are flexible in adapting to new challenges.

Social awareness. The skills under this competency are:

  • Empathy. This is the ability to understand others’ emotions. Leaders with empathy listen attentively while understanding others’ perspectives, blend well with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures, and express their ideas in ways others understand.
  • Organizational awareness. This lets leaders detect networking opportunities. People with this skill not only understand the forces at work in an organization, but also the guiding values and unspoken rules that operate among people.

Relationship management. Comprising this group are five skills:

  • We see this in leaders who know how to appeal to others, and how to build buy-in from key people. They are persuasive and engaging when they address a group.
  • A leader who has a genuine interest in helping others. They understand the goals and strengths of individuals, and address growth opportunities through constructive feedback.
  • Conflict management. Such leaders work towards finding a common ground for discussions. They acknowledge the views of all sides, and redirect energy towards an agreeable resolution.
  • Motivation. Leaders who inspire are able to move the people they work with. They articulate a shared mission in a way that motivates others, and offers a sense of common purpose.
  • Teamwork. Leaders high on this create an atmosphere of respect and cooperation. They draw others into active commitment to the team’s effort, and build spirit, positivity, and identity in a team.

From the lens of these twelve skills, emotional intelligence might look different to you now. And it is perfectly alright to assume that people with high EI are not competent in all these skills. That provides an opportunity for us to balance negative effects of high EI. For example, someone high on empathy might struggle to deliver critical feedback, or have difficult conversations. But if they build skills of emotional self-control and mentoring, they can still be empathetic, while learning to lead in new ways.

In other words, there is always room to grow into our emotional intelligence. What skills do you need today?

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