Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist and a science journalist, he is, in fact, known as the father of emotional intelligence. He’s also the bestselling author of several books including Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence was named one of the 25 Most Influential Business Management Books by Time Magazine and Daniel has been listed among the most influential business thinkers by The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.
What is emotional intelligence? Daniel says it is a competence, a workplace ability, that makes you stand out from others and there’s a set of around a dozen competencies within the domain of emotional intelligence including empathy, adaptability, being able to stay positive, being able to inspire others, and keeping your eye on a goal without getting distracted.
Why is EQ critical for leaders and can it be learned
As Daniel shares, “everything is a combination of nature and nurture, you get your genetic makeup, but that doesn't limit you. That's what you start with.” And he says that emotional intelligence is definitely learnable. But you need life experience, feedback, and practice to get better at it.
Daniel shares why EQ is so important for leaders: “Here's what emotional intelligence tells you. If you're in a negative emotional state, because of the way the brain is wired, you're narrowing the bandwidth of your other capabilities, your cognitive abilities, whatever talents you may have. Because emotions, the way the brain is designed and wired, take up a huge amount of space. In fact, emotional distractions, that thing she said to me that got me so upset, are far stronger than external distractions, it's gonna cap your intelligence, your attention, continually. So emotional intelligence helps you manage disturbing emotions.”
Leaders need to be able to lead themselves first, Daniel says, they have to have control of their emotions. The emotional state of the leader is contagious, so if the leader is negative all of the time, that drives the performance of employees, and production and morale go down. Whereas if the leader is emotionally intelligent and has a positive outlook on life and knows how to manage negativity, employees are more productive and happier too.
It’s not to say leaders won’t ever experience anger, frustration, sadness, etc...All humans experience the full range of emotions. Emotionally intelligent people just know how to manage those emotions and they don’t let the emotions control them.
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IQ alone is not enough
A majority of the time people are promoted to leadership positions because they are good at a certain task they perform in their current role. They are smart, capable people, but that doesn’t mean they have what it takes to lead people. We are currently seeing what people are calling the great resignation, people are leaving their jobs right and left and a lot of it has to do with leaders. People don’t want to work for horrible bosses who aren’t empathetic, positive, caring, self aware, etc…
“So you may be good at a job in terms of the objective measures of the job, such as--I’m really good at programming. But it turns out that it's all done with people. And if you're the leader of people, you need emotional intelligence to work well with the people you're leading. It's just a fact.”
A certain level of IQ is needed for specific roles like being a lawyer or an accountant, but usually in those types of roles everyone around you has around the same IQ--so the thing that sets you apart is EQ. For people who only have IQ, but no EQ they may be better suited to a job in coding or something with numbers that doesn’t require them to work with people too much. They are not good for leadership roles because it is crucial for leaders to be good communicators.
For people with high EQ but not high IQ they may be best suited for a role in sales or a position where they are building relationships with customers and clients.
Three methods you can use to control your emotions at work
We can all use some techniques that can be utilized when we feel angry, frustrated, sad, etc...Daniel has three main methods that he suggests:
- Sympathetic nervous system arousal. It sounds complicated, but actually it’s a breathing technique that helps you recover quickly from being upset. You start out by inhaling as long as you can (at least a count of four), hold it as long as you can (at least a count of four), and then exhale as long as you can. Repeat this six to nine times and it actually shifts your physiology.
- Name what you are feeling. It can help to say out loud what you are feeling either to yourself or to someone else. Just saying “I’m getting angry now” is shown to shift the energy from the part of the brain that feels it to the part of the brain that manages it.
- Practice mindfulness. Bring your focus to your breath and keep it there. Keep your attention on the rise and fall of your belly, and the breath in and out. If your mind starts to wander, notice it, and bring it back to your breathing. And do that for 10-20 minutes a day. The action of catching your mind wandering and bringing it back strengthens your mind to stay focused and avoid distractions.
It’s also important, when you have negative emotions, to take a step back and think twice about your negative thoughts. There are many times when we go to the extreme in our head. You make a mistake at work and your mind starts thinking about how you are going to be fired. When those thoughts pour in, realize that you are being extreme and refocus.
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