Understanding the five components of EQ can put you on the path to being a better leader and taking your company just where you want to go.
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The following excerpt is from Caroline Stokes’s book Elephants Before Unicorns. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21.
Emotional intelligence, as measured in the Emotional Quotient (EQ) inventory, is composed of five categories, each with three subcategories as shown below:
- Self-Regard: Respecting oneself; having confidence
- Self-Actualization: The pursuit of meaning, self-improvement
- Emotional Self-Awareness: Understanding one’s own emotions
- Emotional Expression: Being able to constructively express emotions
- Assertiveness: Communicating feelings and beliefs in a non-offensive manner
- Independence: Being self-directed, free from emotional dependency
- Interpersonal Relationships: Able to maintain mutually satisfying relationships
- Empathy: Quality of being understanding, appreciative of how others feel
- Social Responsibility: Developing a social conscience, helping the larger community
- Problem Solving: Ability to find solutions when emotions are involved
- Reality Testing: Ability to be objective; see things as they really are
- Impulse Control: Ability to resist or delay the impulse to act
5. Stress Management
- Flexibility: Adapting emotions, thoughts, and behaviors
- Stress Tolerance: Coping with stressful situations
- Optimism: Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook on life
Let’s break down each of these elements so you can begin to apply them to your own company.
How you perceive yourself — your self-perception — colors your interactions with the rest of the world. Self-regard makes up the first subcategory. The confidence and respect you have for yourself impacts your decisions and communications with others. Self-actualization, the second subcategory, concerns your pursuit of meaning and self-improvement. If you’re fully self-actualized, you’ve become the “largest” version of yourself — someone who’s fully living out what you view to be your life’s purpose. The third subcategory is emotional self-awareness. Being aware of your emotions isn’t self-indulgent — it’s necessary for healthy and happy living. Repressed emotions manifest as sickness, disagreements with others, constant anxiety, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms that hamper your ability to live and work at the level you seek.
Your perception of yourself — your self-expression — influences how you express yourself. The first part of this is emotional expression. Once you’re aware of your emotions (as noted in the self-perception category), you must be able to express them. Healthy individuals can express their emotions and take responsibility for them without blaming others. Assertiveness makes up the second part of self-expression: Can you communicate your feelings and beliefs in a way that causes no harm to others, yet honors your desires and needs? And the final component is independence. If you’re independent, you’re self-directed and free from emotional dependency on other people. You maintain steadiness regardless of the moods or opinions that are prevailing around you, and you don’t require validation from others.
The interpersonal category deals with how the self interacts with others. Interpersonal relationships addresses how you can adapt your ability to evolve and adapt all relationships from the meaningful people in your life to how you impact others. The second subcategory is empathy, meaning how well you can be understanding and appreciative of how others feel. Without empathy, you can’t form satisfying interpersonal relationships. Next is social responsibility. This builds on the previous two concepts: If you have positive, empathetic relationships with other individuals, you can strive to help the larger community, both locally and globally.
Pop science claims the average human makes about 35,000 decisions each day. An emotionally intelligent person can make decisions with less inner turmoil. The first subcategory of decision making is problem solving: Every time we make a decision, we have to tackle a myriad of emotions to reach a solution. When we understand our own emotional cycle, we can hijack the approach and improve our decision-making skills. The second category is reality testing. If you have strong reality-testing skills, you can be objective and see situations for what they really are without getting caught up in made-up stories, magical thinking, or worst-case scenarios. The third subcategory is impulse control. In a people leader, a lack of impulse control
can do serious harm to organizational morale. Say a CEO is a sucker for new technologies, so he invests in the newest and best tools—every six months. Employees must continually learn and adapt, victims of the boss’s “shiny object syndrome.” By contrast, a CEO with strong impulse control carefully considers the technologies available, chooses the best option for his company, and sticks with it.
We all have stressors in our lives, but we can choose how much they affect us. Have you ever known someone who flies off the handle at the smallest provocation — say, if the coffee pot is empty? Then there’s the person who lives like he’s in the eye of the hurricane: The whole world could be falling to pieces around him, yet he retains an almost unnatural calm.
Flexibility, the first subcategory of stress management, refers to your ability to adapt your thoughts and behaviors to a given situation. It’s how you respond and react in the moment. It’s about the hundreds of course corrections you make throughout the day to maintain emotional steadiness. Stress tolerance encompasses how well you cope with stressful situations. Reflect honestly on yourself: Are you closer to an “eye of the hurricane” person, or a “coffee pot freakout” person? The answer will give you insight into your level of stress tolerance. The third subcategory is optimism, or how well you maintain a positive outlook on life. Optimism breeds resilience. If you have a healthy baseline level of optimism and you encounter setbacks, you have confidence that things will right themselves in time.
These five categories of emotional intelligence serve as a useful barometer for people leaders in the workplace by helping them identify the source of tension or stress. Where discomfort and tension exist, you can peel them apart and see which component of EQ is under stress.
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