Emotional Intelligence

by Andy Smith

In a nutshell

1. What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI or ‘EQ’) extends the idea of ‘intelligence’ beyond the skills with logic and language that are measured in IQ tests. There are many different models of EI, all covering these basic components in one form or another:

  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional self-management (including motivation)
  • Understanding emotions in others
  • Handling and inspiring emotions in others.


2. The business case for EI

Emotions are often discounted in business, but:

  • Success in business often depends on staying motivated
  • All buying decisions are ultimately emotional
  • EI skills are key to inspiring and motivating team members
  • Emotional self-control is vital to rational thought and to leadership
  • Up to 85 per cent of the difference between ‘star’ and average performers in senior management comes down to emotional intelligence.


3. The science and philosophy

We can look at our brains as being in three parts:

  • The neocortex (logic, language and reason)
  • The limbic system (the ‘emotional brain’)
  • The brainstem (fight or flight, automatic responses)

Strong emotions tend to cause the ‘amygdala hijack’ – making us stupid, so emotional self awareness is crucial.


4. Step one: Self-awareness

  • Emotions give you valuable information, so tune into them
  • Meditation or keeping a daily journal helps
  • So does seeing yourself as others see you
  • Don’t judge your emotions – accept them and move on
  • Ask for feedback
  • Self-awareness is the cornerstone of the other EI ‘competencies’.


5. Step two: Self-management

How good are you at self-management – staying calm and focused?

  • Monitor your caffeine intake
  • Respect your body’s natural cycle of rest and activity
  • Use centring and peripheral vision to calm yourself instantly
  • Use ‘anchors’ to get yourself into a positive state on demand
  • Play around with the qualities of an inner critical voice to reduce its impact.


6. Step three: Motivation

Are you able to use your deepest emotions to move you towards your goals?

  • Clarify your values to tap into the emotional sources of motivation
  • Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want
  • Focus on the end result, not the slog of getting there
  • Picture your goals as big, bright and compelling
  • Notice what you have achieved each day.


7. Step four: Empathy

How aware are your of what other people are really feeling – about you, or that vital project, or the new organisation policy?

  • Pay attention to body language, facial expression and voice tone for clues to someone’s emotional state
  • Listen to the beliefs and images that show up in their language
  • Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel in their situation?
  • Notice any changes in response to your words or actions.


8. Step five: Handling relationships

How good are you at managing, influencing and inspiring others?

  • Know what you want from your interaction
  • Allow other people to have their emotions
  • Aim for a win/win outcome
  • Stay true to yourself.


9. How to bring EI to any situation

Use the four-quadrant model of emotional intelligence to analyse any interpersonal problem in terms of:

  • How am I feeling?
  • What are the other individuals feeling?
  • How would it be useful to feel in this situation – and what do I need to do to get there?
  • What do I want the other people to be feeling – and what do I need to do to help them get there?


10. Developing Emotional Intelligence in teams

  • Acknowledge reality – are the norms of the team preventing effective working together?
  • Express and work through concerns openly
  • Listen to and question other team members with respect
  • Make sure every voice is listened to before taking a decision
  • It’s OK to admit mistakes, and to ask questions when something is not clearly understood
  • Reward desirable behaviour with attention
  • Use empathic questioning for emotionally intelligent meetings.


11. Developing Emotional Intelligence in organisations

A ‘strong’ organisational culture can stifle both criticism and innovative ideas. An emotionally intelligent organisation encourages honest feedback, new ideas, empathic thinking and emotionally intelligent behaviour.

  • The ‘emotional climate’ affects results
  • Take care to avoid ‘groupthink’ which can result from a strong organisational culture
  • Use the checklist for an Emotionally Intelligent organisation.


12. The Emotionally Intelligent leader

Managers are concerned primarily with systems, leaders are also concerned with people. ‘The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers’ – Peter Drucker.

  • Self-awareness and healing inner conflicts are essential for leaders
  • Being able to ‘read’ the organisational culture is essential to taking appropriate decisions.


13. ‘Resonant leadership’ and the emotional climate

Emotions are contagious and the leader has more effect on the ‘emotional climate’ than anyone else.

  • The leader sets the emotional climate
  • Avoid ‘CEO disease’ – if you ‘shoot the messenger’ people will only tell you what they think you want to hear.


14. Communicating the vision

EI skills enable a leader to communicate the vision to each person (or each type of person, in a large team).

  • What type of language will get the desired response?
  • What values do you need to appeal to?
  • Have you considered their beliefs?
  • How involved do others need to be?


15. Leadership styles and the emotional climate

Different styles of leadership are required for different occasions.

  • Avoid ‘dissonant’ leadership styles, which disrupt the emotional climate
  • Pace-setting may be useful in the early stages of a start-up.
  • Democratic leadership may be useful when working with a highly experienced team.
  • Affiliative leadership can raise morale and restore trust.
  • Visionary EI skills are almost always part of good leadership.