IQ has long been a measure of one’s ability to reason, solve problems, and think abstractly. Your IQ will help you get into college and land your first big gig, but it’s your emotional intelligence (EQ) that will help you become a leader, strengthen your personal brand, and achieve success in your career.
What is emotional intelligence?
According to Mental Health America, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your own emotions and understand the emotions of the people around you. There are five key elements of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.”
The impact of EQ on leadership
At Richard Branson’s Ask Richard LinkedIn Newsletter, Branson was asked whether IQ or EQ is more important for business success. Branson replied: “Being emotionally intelligent is more important in every aspect of life. Being a good listener, finding empathy, understanding emotions, communicating effectively, treating people well, and bringing out the best in yourself is key to success. It will also make for a happier and healthier team.”
Because emotional intelligence enables you to build relationships of deep trust, it becomes increasingly important as you take on more responsibility and lead projects or cross-functional teams. A new leader development expert, Melissa Janis says, “EQ doesn’t become more important just because the stakes are higher. The higher you climb the corporate ladder, the less insight you have into what’s going on in the organization and the more people tend to give you an idealized version of the truth. That’s where EQ comes in, helping you read between the lines and creating an environment that encourages openness and honesty. EQ allows you to send messages that resonate with your team and stakeholders.”
Emotionally intelligent leaders engage teams
Being emotionally intelligent allows leaders to build trust and connection with their people which means increased engagement. IN a study conducted by HP, a staggering 83% of employees expressed a willingness to earn less if it meant a happier work environment. They stated that they would give up as much as 11% of their salary to work under a leader who demonstrates high emotional intelligence. This opinion highlights the profound impact of emotionally intelligent leaders on employee engagement, satisfaction and retention.
Leadership development must focus on EQ
Unlike IQ, which remains relatively constant throughout life, EQ can be developed and refined over time. Despite its importance, a GE study found a disconnect between top executives and entry-level employees regarding leadership development. While 90% of C-Suite executives believe their companies foster strong leadership, only 68% of entry-level employees feel the same way. Surprisingly, only 20% of employers offer empathy training, a key component of EQ. according to the Wall Street Journal. In a world where artificial intelligence and other technologies are rapidly changing the workforce, and virtual/hybrid environments are reducing connectivity and team cohesion, leaders need to strengthen their humanity.
As technological advances redefine the workplace, leaders need to step up their emotional intelligence. The increasing importance of artificial intelligence (ChatGPT, Claude, etc.), along with the challenges of virtual and hybrid work environments, makes human connection and cohesion more critical than ever.
To increase your EQ, become self-aware
The first step in becoming a highly emotionally intelligent leader is becoming fully self-aware. Self-awareness is the foundation of all emotional intelligence skills and essential for authentic leaders. Although most people believe they are self-aware, Research suggests that only 10-15% of people truly are. Being self-aware requires looking for yourself from two angles:
It is important to reflect on yourself and understand your strengths, weaknesses, values and purpose. Self-reflection is vital for discerning personal preferences and identifying areas of growth. Janis adds “You may also consider using psychometric tools, such as the Hogan Assessment, to assess your emotional intelligence (EQ) and gain insight into your emotional strengths and areas for improvement.”
To be fully self-aware, you must seek constant feedback from managers, peers, mentors, and peers. This helps you confirm your own perception and identify any blind spots that could hinder your success as a leader.
If you’re new to leadership or looking for a leadership role, or just want to be more successful and happier at work, put together your EQ Professional Development Plan.