Home > Talent Insights Blog > Emotional Intelligence: 10 Bits of Truth and Wisdom

Authors: Robert W. Eichinger and Roger R. Pearman

There are several “Qs” that contribute to the effectiveness and success of leaders and top executives.

There is IQ.

Intellectual horsepower. As you get higher in an organization and the content of the role or job gets more complex and the decision-making responsibilities increase, the requirement for cognitive skills increase.

There is MQ.

Motivation and aspiration quotient. You have to want it.  As you climb the career ladder, the time commitments increase. Balance between life and work is stressed. More of a person is required. It’s an all-out effort at the top.

There is XQ.

eXposure and eXperiences that build the skills and the perspectives needed to be effective and successful as a leader.

There is TQ.

The technical and functional skills needed to manage at the top. All top leaders have a home-base functional foundation, plus all of the knowledge and experiences accumulated along the career path.

There is PQ.

Performance quotient. A record of achievements under various sets of conditions.

Based upon the data we have on over 100,000 leaders over the past 25 years, most leaders in top management tend to have most of these Qs. Organizations don’t promote many dense, unmotivated, unskilled or non-performing people into top jobs.

There is a 6th Q that matters. It’s Emotional Intelligence, or people skills.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is solidly documented to contribute to effective and successful leadership. EQ skills result in the ability to leverage people, up, down, sideways, inside and outside the organization to get great things done. They lead to effective influence actions, highly engaged individuals and teams and better retention of talent. Further, they provide more ability to attract better employees and easier change management. There are lots of benefits to a working set of EQ knowledge and skills.

EQ contributes to success. Most struggles and failures (reported to be as high as 50%) of people promoted into positions of leadership are due to a lack of EQ skills. Because people have traditionally been promoted based upon the hard skills (the 5 Qs), we know that there are plenty of people promoted to top jobs with insufficient EQ skills. When they fail, it’s often due to that one missing Q: EQ.

The EQ Mindset – the essence

There are 10 knowledge-based and researched-based ‘bits of the truth and wisdom’ for EQ.  People with an accurate and emotionally intelligent mindset should either have, or could easily build, sufficient EQ skills.

  1. People are different in known ways. They are different on most agreed-upon competencies, skills and characteristics that drive work performance and skills. Most skills are distributed “normally” in the working population. Some have a lot of these, some not many. Most are in or somewhere near the middle. And most people have a mix of all of those characteristics–a few very high and a few very low with the rest landing in the middle. These skills can be enhanced.
  2. Some of those things on which people differ do not or should not make a difference in work performance or career progression. Things like gender, race, ethnic origin, country of origin, identity, religion, political preferences, body shape or size, or disabilities do not and should not matter.…other than extreme examples such as Shaquille O’Neal cannot be a jockey and Tiny Tim cannot be an NBA center.
  3. Some of the things on which people differ do and can make a difference. The type and amount of experience. Values, beliefs and motives. Job knowledge and skills. Personality. Style. Education. Things like these matter and people differ on them. Most of these things can be further developed or adjusted.
  4. Why are people different? It turns out that one-half of the influence comes early in life, as we are born with certain predispositions. The other half comes from life experiences. Whether in our disposition or from previous learning, we can enrich our awareness and actions through intentional learning.
  5. All people have a mixed portfolio of the necessary skills for any role or job. All have a few strengths, a couple of overused skills, many skills that fall in the middle, a few weaknesses or areas they can’t improve, some blind spots, some untested areas and some derailers. One key EQ-oriented leader skill is to be able to assess and profile team members by categorizing their skills—strength, middle, weakness, blind spots, and derailers.
  6. Leaders need to know that they are not like the people they lead. They have been promoted because they are perceived to be better and more skilled than the people they manage. They are more highly rated on the skills that matter. To manage others well, a leader has to understand that they do not think like most and that they have broader perspectives and more skills than the people they lead.
  7. Self-awareness is a key emotional intelligence skill. Research reports that most individuals are lacking in full self-awareness, that they are more accurate in assessing their own hard 5 Qs, and least accurate assessing their own EQ. People are rarely accurate about how others experience them. Many leaders and employees have a deficit in self-awareness which decreases overall EQ skills.
  8. Managing change effectively requires several key EQ skills, which are often more important than a number of the other Q skills. The skilled application of empathy and communication top the list. People universally perform better, or get more fully engaged with a compelling vision, when they feel leaders empathize and communicate clearly. A vision which informs them “where we are going” and “why we’re going there” inspires. Engaging people in change events, including the plans for change, increases change comfort, energy and compliance.
  9. An advanced emotional intelligence skill is to be able to manage different people differently. Fair and equitable treatment means managing people differently, according to their needs. Some need more, some less. Some need a firm hand and some respond to softer approaches. The platinum rule: treat others as they want to be treated.
  10. The two biggest EQ challenges are listening and face to face conflict management.The next two are accurately assessing candidates and managing in an emotionally intelligent manner that leads to strong team engagement.

Essential EQ skills are the frosting on the cake for your effectiveness and professional reputation. You don’t need much EQ to get there, but you can’t be successful without it.