Who Is Your Mirror – Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence, made popular by a 2004 HBR article written by Daniel Goleman called ‘What Makes a Leader’, is a type of intelligence that more and more leaders excel in. Contrasted with Academic Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence is comprised of possessing high levels of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. The argument is that while having the determination, expertise, vision and motivation are helpful components to leading people, emotional intelligence (EQ) should not be overlooked and in many organizations are a must have.

If high EQ is important for the leader of the organization to have, we can also assume that it is important for all positive team members to have.

The encouraging part is that EQ can be learned if we are open to it.  Here are 5 ways to increase your EQ:

  • Read and understand what it is – pick up Daniel Goleman’s ‘Primal Leadership: Leading with Emotional Intelligence’ or Daniel Pink’s ‘A Whole New Mind’
  • Ask for 360 degree feedback from your peers
  • Invite 1-3 people you trust to speak into your life – give them permission to give you feedback
  • Ahead of the next meeting you run or presentation you give or customer interaction ask 1-2 people to give you specific feedback
  • Develop EQ skills and your own that drive your development

Build into your professional life mirrors – mirrors that speak the truth and cut through the fog.  People around you that care about your development are ideal candidates. It requires vulnerability and sometimes hearing feedback you were not expecting or are uncomfortable with but likely will include a nugget of truth that can have lifetime impact.

Here are 3 pieces of feedback that have had a profoundly positive impact on my career:

  1. At 26 I received feedback from one of my direct reports that I should more books and gain a broader perspective on business
  2. At 32 I received feedback from my boss to ‘think before speaking – digest what someone else was saying to me before articulating a response’
  3. At 38 my business partners shared with me the need to be more assertive with where our company was going and how it was going to get there.

In all 3 cases I found the feedback to be invaluable and it has brought a level of consciousness that has brought on improvement. These mirrors are important components in enhancing our own levels of EQ.

Good luck.