Emotional Intelligence

In the previous article, we learned that the most important characteristic of a high-performing team is Psychological Safety.  Psychological Safety is a shared belief that the environment is safe for interpersonal risk taking.

Leaders who are successful in creating such an environment, see team members consistently contributing at the highest level. 

The most important skill a leader must have to create Psychological Safety is Emotional Intelligence.  Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as:

·      awareness of your own emotions and the ability to control them

·      awareness of other people’s emotions and the ability to influence them

Let’s start with the first part – awareness of your own emotions and the ability to control them.  Have you ever reacted poorly to bad news, in front of others, and visibly lost your temper?  Think about the impact that had on the people who witnessed it, and their willingness to bring you bad news in the future.  Is this a good vibe for a high-performing team?

High EQ allows you to monitor your feelings in the moment, and consider how your actions might be perceived.  This is called Self-Awareness.  High EQ allows you to maintain an even-keel, delay your impulses, and consider your options.  This is called Self-Control.

The second part is even more important – awareness of other people’s emotions and the ability to influence them.  Have you ever gotten noticeably frustrated with a team member who doesn’t seem to be on the same page with you?  Think about the impact that had on the team member, and their willingness to disagree with you in the future. 

High EQ allows you to listen to the other person, confirm what you heard, and understand their point of view.  This is called Social Perception.

Self Awareness, Self Control, and Social Perception are critical skills that must be developed in order to improve Emotional Intelligence.

The good news is that EQ can be improved.  Unlike IQ, which is a fixed trait that doesn’t really change over time, EQ is a learnable skill.  Once you have measured your current EQ, you can identify where there are opportunities for improvement.

In the next article, we will discuss how to interpret an EQ assessment, and practice new behaviors that will improve your EQ and make you a better leader.

Tom Kopinski