Most people evolve into a leadership role. Sure, we’ve all heard people talk about a specific person as a “natural born leader”, but few are. Often times, someone rises to the position of leader as a result of their accomplishments as an individual contributor. Think about it. What was the reason for your first promotion? Or your second? Most likely you were promoted because you exceeded a specific sales number, or made an improvement that saved the company a great deal of money. Early in your career, those are the reasons you achieve recognition and promotions.
Many companies invest heavily in leadership development. They use tests to identify potential leaders, teach classes in leadership lessons and ideals, and even rank employees in the ever popular “Org & Talent Review”. And while each of these components serves a very specific purpose in building the leadership ranks within a company, it’s the time and development spent in the areas of EQ that tend to be overlooked.
EQ, or emotional quotient, is the measure of a persons ability to deal with others in a sensitive and empathetic way. People with high EQ have a great sense of self-awareness and know the importance of treating people with respect and dignity regardless of position, title, etc. A report published by Glowan Consulting Group, looked at the correlation between leaders with high EQ versus IQ, or cognitive intelligence. The report found that those leaders with a high level of EQ generated results ranging from 10 – 24% better than those with low EQ.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods said, “For leadership positions, emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence.” Having the ability to respond to one’s own emotions, and those of others, is the key differentiator between those that manage people versus great leaders of people.
Leaders that have a difficult time connecting with others in high stress environments should look to improve their EQ. As the pace of change rages on, and companies are faced with changing strategies, workforces, and philosophies, it is critical that its leaders understand how to connect with people in order to affect positive change.
Daniel Goleman brought EQ to the forefront in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence. I highly recommend this book for any leader looking to gain a better understanding, as well as, improvement of their own EQ level. Your ability to connect with those around you in an authentic and genuine way will create the trust and bond required to help you – the leader – provide direction and guidance both in good and bad times. An improvement in your EQ level will drive increases in your individual performance, as well as, producing better results across the team you lead. The reason? People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.