You’ve probably heard all about IQ, the intelligence quotient. Yet, in recent years, people have proposed that there are different types of intelligence. Traditional IQ tends to measure “book learning,” whereas other types of intelligence aren’t reflected in the test.
One of the most interesting ones for HR managers and business leaders is emotional intelligence, or EQ. EQ is a measure of how insightful people are in understanding the emotions of others and then responding to those emotions.
As many people are now discovering, EQ may actually be more important in the workplace than we realize. What value can EQ bring to your teams? Let’s take a look.
Good Leaders Have High EQ
Have you heard jokes about doctors who have no bedside manner? The “joke” speaks to the difference between IQ and EQ. Doctors who got high marks for book-knowledge in school have high IQ, but their lack of bedside manner suggests they don’t have much in the way of EQ. They can easily recite textbook facts but don’t “get” their patients’ emotions.
What about a brilliant IT team member who does better with computers than other people? This person may be highly intelligent in some ways but lacking in EQ.
Someone with high EQ understands their co-workers’ feelings and empathizes deeply. Those insights then allow them to respond in the most appropriate way. Great salespeople and good HR team members often score high on emotional intelligence. So, too, do good leaders.
What Does High EQ Look Like in the Workplace?
When we talk about being “emotionally intelligent,” we might imagine someone who is highly empathetic. We may also understand it as simply “being nice.”
True emotional intelligence goes deeper. It offers us insight into why people are feeling a certain way. That understanding allows us to offer support that addresses the root of why people are feeling what they feel.
In fact, an emotionally intelligent leader may occasionally be not “nice”! Sometimes, a team needs someone to be harsh in their criticism or to light a fire under them. Someone with high EQ understands this, but they also know how to deploy it properly. Constantly berating your team to “motivate” them isn’t emotionally intelligent, and it’s not likely to get the results you want.
High EQ, then, looks like leaders who are willing to listen. They make space for concerns, questions, complaints, and frustrations. They celebrate wins, and they work with their teams to understand why they’re struggling and how to overcome challenges. They understand emotions from outside the workplace can affect us, and they make space for that too.
Team members might see them positively, express a good deal of faith or trust in these leaders, and be more willing to go along with their plans. Team members may even be more productive and efficient, because they’re more motivated to perform at a high level.
How Can You Develop EQ?
Very few people are naturally emotionally intelligent. Don’t worry, though. EQ is something you can work on, and it starts by becoming self-aware.
Many of us tune out our own emotions, which makes it harder to understand our reactions. For example, we went to work in a foul mood because someone ate the leftover pizza we wanted for lunch. We don’t feel just disappointment here. We also feel like whoever ate the pizza was disrespectful to us or maybe ignored our authority. As a result, we might try to overexert control in the workspace to gain back feelings of respect.
If we can recognize where those desires are coming from and how they’re informing our actions, we can start to curb those impulses. As we make space for what we’re feeling, it becomes easier to encourage others to do the same, and then to understand them.
Use Technology to Support Your EQ Development
Developing EQ needs to be reinforced with the right tools. Technology can help you support your team members and their needs. Everything from benefits to goal-tracking is possible with the right technological support.