How Good Is Your Boss’ Emotional Intelligence?

May 1st, 2015

Emotional intelligence is about being able to understand your and others’ interior lives and how your actions and environments affect them.  Believe it or not, those above the middle management level don’t always score so high on their emotional intelligence. Travis Bradbury, author and co-founder of TalentSmart, analyzed the score profiles of more than a million people, working across industries on six continents. Middle managers stand out with the highest emotional intelligence (EQ) scores in the workplace.

Companies have a clear tendency to promote people into front-line supervisory and then middle management positions because they’re good with people. They assume that a manager with high EQ is someone that people will want to work for.  Interestingly, emotional intelligence scores decline precipitously as you move above middle management, with CEOs having the lowest EQs in the workplace, on average.

Here, Bradbury writes for Forbes and offers up some of his favorite EQ-boosting strategies below.

These tips apply to anyone, even if you’re not a leader.
Acknowledge Other People’s Feelings
Assertive, action-oriented executives don’t exactly ignore other people’s feelings. What they tend to do instead is to marginalize them or “fix” them so that they don’t get in the way of action. While some have suggested that this is a predominantly male problem, it can more accurately be described as a “power problem.” People who fail to acknowledge other people’s feelings fail to realize that lingering emotions inhibit effective action. So the next time you notice someone on your team expressing a strong emotion, ask him or her about it. Then listen intently and play back what you have just heard in summary form. By validating their emotions, you’ll help them feel understood so that they can move forward without hindrance.

When You Care, Show It
Good leaders always notice when people on their teams are doing good work, but they don’t often show it. When you appreciate something that another person does, let him or her know about it. Even a quick email or pat on the back goes a long way in this regard. There are people who do great work around you every day. Don’t put off letting them know how you feel about it. Your praise will build fierce loyalty and inspire your people to work even harder.

Watch Your Emotions Like A Hawk
You may think you have a world-class poker face, but if you’re like the average executive, your weakest self-awareness skills are “understanding how your emotions impact others” and “recognizing the role you have played in creating difficult circumstances.” In other words, you would become a much more effective leader if you obtained a better understanding of what you feel, when you feel it. Practice this by taking notice of your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors just as a situation unfolds. The goal is to slow yourself down and take in all that is in front of you, so that you can understand how your emotions influence your behavior and alter your perception of reality.

I can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and improving your relationships. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. The pressure that leaders are under often makes them feel as if they don’t have time to sleep, but not taking the time to get a decent night’s sleep is often the one thing keeping you from getting things under control.

Quash Negative Self-Talk
A big step in developing emotional intelligence involves stopping negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts. When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking. Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity. When it feels like something “always” or “never” happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Identifying and labeling your thoughts as thoughts by separating them from the facts will help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.

Now, somewhat contrary to what the article says, I know many CEO’s with high emotional intelligence.  I guess that is because they know enough to bring us in to help with the development of their people and themselves.

For those of you who’d like to check out your own EQ levels, we offer you a free Emotional Quotient™ 3 from Target Training International. (Please limit one per person.) This is of course just one example of the many developmental assessments RCG offers.