Evidence continues to support high “EQ,” or emotional quotient, as a predictor of strong leadership. Unfortunately, a high emotional quotient, also called emotional intelligence, is harder to spot than a high IQ. If your organization seeks strong leaders, it’s important to educate yourself on identifying high emotional intelligence.
Before you question my own IQ, I should say upfront that I will be using EQ, Emotional Quotient and Emotional Intelligence interchangeably in this article.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the intangible part of us that affects the way we manage our behavior in the various contexts of life. It’s how we manage ourselves and our relationships plus how aware we are of ourselves and others.
Self-awareness, stress management and empathy are all measurements of emotional intelligence. To assess your own EQ, you can ask yourself these questions: Can I manage my emotions? Can I perceive other people’s emotions and adjust to them? The better you are at these, the higher your EQ.
EQ is just as important to professional success as technical ability. Organizations are evaluating EQ more and more when making hiring and promoting decisions.
9 Habits of High Emotional Intelligence
Dr. Travis Bradburry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and president of TalentSmart wrote an article in the Huffington Post that outlines the 9 habits of individuals with high emotional intelligence. These are the habits to look for when you are seeking a strong leader.
1. They’re relentlessly positive
2. They have a robust emotional vocabulary
3. They’re assertive
4. They’re curious about other people
5. They forgive, but they don’t forget
6. They won’t let anyone limit their joy
7. They make things fun
8. They are difficult to offend
9. They squash negative self-talk
What Does a High EQ Look Like?
As an executive recruiter, I spend a lot of time getting to know a hiring manager’s needs before filling an open executive role. I’m keenly aware of the traits that are most sought after in a leader. These 9 characteristics shared by Dr. Bradburry are very much in line what I’ve experienced.
- Being positive is key. No one wants to work with an Eeyore. Even in the most stressful situations, a leader with a high EQ will stand out because of his or her ability to maintain a positive outlook.
- Having a strong ability to express your emotions will take you far. Clear communication is always important, but when you’re communicating about the nebulous arena of feelings, it’s a stand-out. When an individual can verbalize emotions (his own or other people’s), he or she will be much more successful. Having the ability to name and address emotions will help diffuse potentially volatile situations, allowing for more productivity.
- Being assertive goes hand-in-hand with confidence. People are drawn to confidence. If you assert yourself in a calm, confident manor, your influence will flourish. Know your stuff so you can assert yourself and take action.
- Possessing a strong curiosity about others is a great way to build relationships. People love to talk about themselves. Ask questions. Be curious. And then use that information to encourage and challenge people to grow in their abilities.
- Forgiving but not forgetting is extremely important to your emotional health, and therefore your emotional intelligence. It’s critical to forgive offensives quickly and often if you want to move forward. Holding onto grudges only hurts you. However, prudent leaders need to be aware of areas of conflict so that trouble can be avoided in the future. So don’t wipe the incident completely from your mind.
- Don’t give others the power to limit your joy. Empathize with the challenges of others, but don’t let them drag you down. Recognize your own obstacles as challenges, not burdens. So much of your joy comes from your perspective. Choose to be grateful and share that perspective with others, rather than letting others rob you of your joy.
- Making your job fun is a fabulous measure of a high EQ. Executives typically have high stress jobs that come with a lot of responsibility. If you are able to lighten up the mood with some fun, the response will be contagious. No matter how silly, fun makes a job a whole lot better.
- Being difficult to offend stands out as a key indicator of high emotional intelligence. Key executives have to be able to receive criticism graciously. Not only that, a wise leader will evaluate the criticism and identify if there is truth to it. If so, he or she will take action to make those changes.
- Squelching negative self-talk is crucial, but can take some practice. The more you dwell on your flaws, the more those flaws become your identity. As a leader, you cannot afford to let negative self-talk undermine so many of the characteristics I mentioned above. Negative self-talk robs you of your joy, hijacks your confidence and sucks all the fun out of your day. Squelching such thoughts are key to a high EQ.
These 9 habits are a start to identifying individuals with a high EQ. However these nine aren’t exhaustive. What else have you found to be helpful to spot someone with a healthy emotional intelligence?
Raise Your Own EQ to be a Better Leader
The other side of this information is the personal side. Don’t just look for emotional intelligence in others, look for it in yourself. Start strengthening your own EQ.
Next month I’ll share some practical steps to raise your EQ. I’d love to hear your suggestions as well. The more, the better! Raising my emotional intelligence is not only a great way to become a better leader but also a more balanced individual.