Emotional Intelligence: A Critical Pillar to Self-Management

The final of the four-part series on self-management is about emotional intelligence. This is a topic I have learned a lot about and have included some information in a Q&A below.

Can emotional intelligence be “learned”?

Yes, unlike IQ which cannot be altered, emotional intelligence (EQ) can be learned and enhanced.  There are four components of EQ:  self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management.  There are specific strategies that people can implement to increase their EQ in any one of those components.

In your YouTube video , you mention that self-management as it relates to emotional intelligence is about managing your emotions and putting a positive spin on tough circumstances.  Sounds easier said than done.  Practice would be a good way to start, but what other tips can you give for managing emotions?

A good place to start would be to know yourself intimately and recognize what triggers certain emotions and reactions within you.  Another tip is to use reason along with emotion to deal with tough circumstances.  You can also train yourself to anticipate or expect some difficult situations rather than assume that life owes you a bowl of cherries every day.   This doesn’t mean you live in fear of what’s coming next; it simply means that you learn to accept life as a combination of pleasant, easier times and challenging, more rugged times.

In your E-zine article, “Executive Intelligence – Beyond IQ”  you state, “Executives need to develop a heightened form of critical thinking, specifically a set of aptitudes and cognitive skills in three main areas: accomplishing tasks, working with and through other people, and changing their own behavior after honestly assessing it.”  The first two are a no-brainer, but the third one is interesting. Tell us more about how executives must assess and change their own behavior.

One of the best ways executives—or anyone in a management position—can assess their behaviors is by hiring a consultant/coach to conduct a 360 degree assessment.  A 360 involves interviewing perhaps ten different employees representing various layers of the organization, using the same list of questions with each person.  The questions are fashioned in such a way as to get underneath the manager’s skills, strengths, weaknesses, and behaviors.  A report that summarizes all of the responses is then submitted to the manager, highlighting significant patterns and trends.  What I especially like about 360s is that they provide the manager with unfiltered truth as observed and experienced by the staff.  A manager who takes the 360 results seriously can work on changing behaviors that need to be addressed by working with a good coach over a period of months or a year.

How would you recommend subordinates handle working for an executive who might lack emotional intelligence?

This depends upon which EQ component(s) the executive or manager lacks or needs to improve.  For example, if someone has noticed that her boss lacks social awareness, she can make sure she verbally communicates her feelings, needs, and preferences very clearly, in a respectful but direct way.  She cannot rely upon her boss to observe her reactions to situations and draw accurate conclusions.  She may say something like:  “I just want to clarify with you how much I disagree with Tom’s idea for how we might move forward with the project you introduced yesterday during team meeting.”

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