The ability to do the job and do it well — your talent, your IQ — is traditionally what gets you a job and what gets you promoted through the ranks until you become a leader.
In today’s business world, though, talent isn’t enough. Without emotional intelligence, or EQ, your role as a leader will soon come to a screeching halt, and your earning potential will stall. People with high EQs earn almost $30,000 more annually than people with low EQs. An organization called TalentSmart studied more than 1 million people and found that EQ is responsible for 58 percent of success in all job categories. Ninety percent of top performers have high EQs.
EQ is the ability to identify, understand and use emotions in positive ways in both personal and professional environments. EQ isn’t something you can fake. Employees can spot a faker a mile away. Behaviors must reflect the talk. The good news is that EQ is something we learn. You’re neither too young nor too old, too inexperienced or too experienced to improve your EQ. You can improve your EQ by focusing on self-awareness, accountability and communication. Once you improve your EQ, you must apply that knowledge on a consistent basis to make it a habit – to make it part of who you are, authentic and genuine.
The first step is to increase your level of self-awareness, which is the understanding that every thought has an origin, and the origin is the makeup of that person. Self-awareness is essential for building trust, which is the foundation of both personal and professional relationships. And it is the first step toward goal-setting, because it enables you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. With that understanding, you can harness your strengths and develop your weaknesses.
To develop self-awareness, you need to go on an introspective journey. A great tool for this journey is a 360-degree review. A 360-degree review enables you to rate yourself on key leadership skills, including soft skills, while being rated by your boss, peers and others in your organization with whom you regularly work. Your self-scores are compared to the scores of the other raters. This serves as a great initial measure of your level of self-awareness. You can then focus on one or two key areas for development and build a purposeful plan.
Next, hold yourself and those around you accountable. Employees who carry their weight and behave appropriately lose respect for leaders who let employees slide or don’t hold them to the same standards. When they lose respect, they lose their will to put in the extra, discretionary effort it takes to do the job exceptionally well. We don’t want to succeed. We want to exceed. A great way to drive accountability is to have an accountability partner – someone you trust to give you timely and candid feedback and coaching. You may have more than one partner, internally and externally. And you must be open to the feedback and willing to change your behavior when necessary, which might include an apology and a promise to improve.
Finally, rethink how you communicate. With any communication, ask yourself four simple questions to frame the discussion: (1) Who is my audience? (2) What am I trying to say? (3) How might it be perceived? and (4) What do I need from the recipient? The third question is the one most likely to convince you to review your tone and use of words. With every communication, it isn’t just about you.
This isn’t all there is to building a high EQ, but I guarantee it’s the right start to ensuring your continued success and the success of your team and business.