Archives for category: The Case for EQ

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In the first part of this article “EQ Deja-Vu” I made a case that there is enough evidence and research out there to demonstrate that there is a high correlation between one’s EQ and success, and likewise a leader’s EQ and his organizations success, but there still remain very few corporations that have invested in EQ based solutions for their businesses or themselves.

Why is this?

Here’s a collection of potential reasons with some counter arguments. I hereby throw them out there into the blogosphere in the interests of healthy discussion and constructive challenge knowing full well that they stink of generalization.

1)  The term Emotional Intelligence is an issue. If you score low in something graded intelligence then convention would have you believe you are NOT intelligent. A less self-assured leader might be discouraged from investing in an initiative that could potentially rate him as emotionally stupid, particularly if there is the potential comparison of results with peers or reports.

 Then there’s the negative connotation with the adjective emotional. The etymology of the word emotion appears to come from the Old French “emouvoir” – to stir up. I love that! “Stir-up”, that’s exactly how it feels.  I was certainly raised and educated to believe there was no place for emotion in school or in the workplace. After all, they, especially the less positive ones are bad, right? WRONG! Emotions are merely messages. We all have them.  However, we might not be smart with what we do with them.
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2)   Emotional Intelligence, incorrectly in my opinion, often gets labeled as soft skills. We all know that soft is a not a very helpful word in this context. Management attitude towards soft skills means that it gets delegated to HR to deal with. “Yes that’s necessary but it’s not “hard” (important) enough for us to deal with at a leadership level.” .

3)   HR has largely become a process orientated function within most businesses and people development has become a series of procedural implementations.  Resource (People) + Process (Training) = OUTPUT (BEHAVIOUR). It’s an unfortunate thing that a large number of Human Resources professionals have come to accept this as being their lot in life. They started out with good intentions believing that this would be a people orientated career. It should be! It can be! So come on my HR friends take responsibility for your workplace climate. There are already case studies strongly correlating EQ to the level of engagement in businesses and YOU should be the leading advocates for engaged cultures that encourage employees sense of self.

4)   The fact that emotions, or the feelings associated with them are a subjective experience, in other words PERSONAL, makes it somehow difficult for people and companies to put that into a workplace context. However, if we consider that emotions and feelings are a constant and considerable part of all of us, then both individually and collectively they must impact our performance.  We know that emotions occur in conjunction with thoughts, which in turn drive actions through decision-making. So the understanding of where your emotions come from, giving those emotions meaningful labels, and recognizing patterns or habits arising from them is a pretty critical and foundational piece of self-awareness to acquire if you want to be a successful leader, manager or entrepreneur. In short it is never the hard skill that makes the decision it’s the subjective interpretation that does.

5)  There’s a misperception that results related to investments in raising EQ in organizations are not measurable to the bottom line. In fact a carefully constructed EQ program can be just as measurable as any other investment a business may make even one that might be as tangible as ROI on traditional Assets or New product initiatives.

6)   The economic crisis seems to be a reason spouted for all sorts of curtailment of expenditure. The reality is that cost-cutting and sitting out this one is not really a strategy that’s going to succeed long-term. It seems to me it would be a far better solution to ensure the costs that you are left with are “engaged” in your business.

The latest eggcount reductions received mixed emotions.

The latest cuts in eggcount were met with mixed emotions.

7)   In my opinion one of the biggest hurdles to further adoption in corporations is the question of how to move from EQ as a single person psychometric based self-graded test to the institutionalization of EQ within an organizations climate and ultimately its culture. The range of available products is limited and the majority struggle to bridge that chasm created by the modern workplaces suppression of individuality and the complex personal nature of emotions embroiled as they are within their own unique belief systems and habitual behaviours. 

Good tools are translated from simple effective models but grounded in scientific research. They address the situational needs of an organization while supporting the creation of a workplace climate built on trust and emotional intelligence. The Six Seconds Vital Signs tools are a good starting point for such an initiative.

When a climate provides motivation, innovation, collaboration, open communication and accountability all within a trusting environment then magic happens!

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Early in July a Forbes article posted on Linkedin caught my attention, and to be honest I was a little unsure how to react.

The article was entitled “Forget Business School: Why an Emotional Education is Indispensible” and was authored by a contributor named Avid Labizadeh, who, in her own words writes about entrepreneurship and technology across multiple cultures.

Now I know you are already asking yourself “Why wouldn’t, an Emotional Practitioner like him be jumping up and down with excitement? There’s no pleasing him!” It is a good article and after all a piece of positive journalism on emotional intelligence getting exposure from Forbes. So let me explain my hesitancy to celebrate..

Labizadeh gives an explanation of what Emotional Intelligence(abbreviated to either EI or EQ) is and verbally correlates it to success in life, even stating that it’s her emotional understanding that she draws on more often than her formidable academic education when dealing with life’s personal and professional challenges.

In her concluding section of the article Labizadeh has me both cheering and holding my head in my hands in frustration. The applause and the flag waving are attributed to such statements as “EI skills are integral to success and self-fulfillment” or “it is almost impossible to be a successful entrepreneur without high Emotional Intelligence”. I even give her significant credit for correctly inferring that EI skills can be learned.

The groaning, and wringing of hands are attached to the fact that she states there is no official track where to learn these skills.

Well, there is! Yes indeed!

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In fact according to an ebook published by Six Seconds entitled “A case for Emotional Intelligence in our schools”, in the US there are several organizations that have emerged to help schools and organizations implement emotional intelligence and social-emotional learning programs, including The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), The Center for Social Emotional Learning, CSEE, and Six Seconds themselves, The Emotional Intelligence Network who are the largest organization supporting EQ development globally via its network of local offices and preferred partners.

However this blip on an otherwise solid article was not the issue. What troubled me was Déjà vu!

Please don’t misunderstand me I am in no way suggesting plagiarism but I find myself saying “here we are again”, another printed recognition by a credible person in a credible magazine stating that technical skills and cognitive intelligence are not an indicator of success but in actual fact that it’s the capabilities associated with emotions that make the difference.

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the concept of Emotional Intelligence very early in my career. My employer of the time was very innovative in their People Development area and upon reflection I believe that we formed part of the test samples that followed Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence” and that provided the backbone of the research that supported his 1998 article in Harvard Business Review entitled “What makes a Leader?” I believe it is their all-time most reprinted article!

Guess what the introductory paragraph to the article states?

“IQ and technical skills are important, but emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.”

Goleman analyzed the competency models of 188 companies, the majority of which were multinational, to establish which personal capabilities appeared to drive performance in these organizations.
To cut a long story short, the analysis showed that when calculating the ratio of importance for technical skills, IQ and emotional intelligence as ingredients of excellent performance, EI was twice as important as the others across all job levels. And furthermore the higher up in an organization you go where levels of technical competence and IQ become much less differential, EI becomes a much more significant indicator of success. When Goleman compared STAR performers versus AVERAGE performers in senior leadership positions, nearly 90% of the difference in profiles could be attributed to emotional intelligence factors. WOW!!!! Read that again!
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He also references others research correlating EI with strong performance in leaders.

He dedicates a whole page to the question “Can Emotional Intelligence Be Learned”, again to reach a resounding YES.

So even back in 1998 we had some numbers to back-up what Labizadeh states in the Forbes article of July 2013, and there’s been so much more good research, and so many printed articles and white papers on the topic since 1998, the majority supporting the correlations between EI and success, EI and Well being, EI and happiness.

And YET….Yet we still find business leaders, entrepreneurs, managers and HR personnel either unaware of this or unwilling to take the next step and do something to make their organizations more EI evolved.

The folks at Six Seconds talk about this being the 3rd Decade of EQ. The first was the discovery period, the second was the research and evaluation period and now we enter the decade of application.

The article highlights that there is clearly still significant work to be done in the area of awareness but more importantly why are we unable to move forward with the phase of application? of implementation? The proof is already there. What’s holding us back?

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In part 2 of this post I will offer some thoughts on this question, but in the meantime please feel free to comment on this or anything else EI related, and maybe try the poll 🙂 Thanks for reading!