Leaders today require high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to succeed. High EQ equates to a person’s success in dealing with stress internally, how the person will react and respond outwardly during difficult situations, and the person’s ability to form trusted relationships. People with high EQ are more often promoted into leadership roles and oftentimes receive higher compensation. Fortunately, unlike IQ and personality, steps can be taken to improve a person’s EQ.
- Learn your EQ score – Almost everyone overestimates their emotional intelligence, so take the test and determine your baseline. EQ exams are fast, easy, and inexpensive. Don’t be discouraged if your test results show low EQ! There is room for improvement for just about everyone. During the normal course of business, a person might show signs of having high emotional intelligence, but the true test comes under extreme pressure.
- Understand your reputation – What you think of yourself is your identity; what others think of you is your reputation. Your ability to thrive is directly attributed to your reputation. A coach or mentor can be extremely valuable in providing an honest assessment of your reputation. Once you understand that, you can create action items to improve both your reputation and EQ.
- Communicate effectively – Communication is about how the message is delivered just as much as how it is received. Always read your audience, show empathy, and adjust your communication style to fit the situation. Body language, tone of voice, and eye contact are key to letting others know how you feel emotionally and ensuring a positive response
- Pause – The best leaders are those who respond well to difficult situations, not those who react the fastest. Before saying or doing something that you may regret later, take time to reflect on the best strategy moving forward.
- Create a positive environment – Positive attitudes are contagious. It makes you and others around you feel better and, in turn, makes everyone more productive. Become more aware of your emotions and the emotions of others around you. Lead by example by teaching people to look at problems and setbacks as learning opportunities. Surround yourself with motivated people who are up for the challenge and who are interested in continuous improvement. Three words never associated with high EQ are drama, complainer, and pessimist.
- Succession Planning – By showing an interest in the development of others, you gain credibility, earn loyalty, and inspire increased performance. Encouraging and allowing people to do more outside of their comfort zone will take matters off your plate and allow more time for strategic focus.
- EQ in your personal life – A heightened awareness of emotions for you and others around you, both inside and outside the office, will increase your overall quality of life. Understand that your EQ will not change overnight and there will be setbacks brought on from not only work, but also life’s challenges. A commitment to improving EQ will be rewarding personally and professionally, and you will cherish the lasting relationships you form.