IQ gets you a leadership position, but emotional intelligence (EQ) helps to ensure you keep it, as I recently explained in the introduction of the T principle. According to a MHS study, EQ is three times more likely than IQ to predict career success. Yet, most executives new to leadership are thrashing about in the deep-end of the pool before they realize they don’t know how to swim.
You were always told which degrees to get, what hard skills to master and what people to meet to land your dream career. But chances are no one tapped you on the shoulder and suggested you get a master’s in EQ before joining the leadership ranks or risk failing. Executives who find themselves in senior positions and struggling to inspire others to help them are often caught off guard. They are used to succeeding. Doubt starts to set in. “Am I leadership material?,” they begin to wonder.
Traversing the transition from relying on IQ to EQ is tricky, especially for leaders with high IQ. Their book smarts have always been enough. But. motivating people to act isn’t like practicing an exact science. You can’t balance humans like spreadsheets. And, learning about how you impact other people to acquire the soft skills you need to lead is hard. It’s an uncomfortable and unpredictable process.
When it comes to shifting from relying on IQ to EQ, awareness is your compass. Pay attention to how you feel and how others respond to you to determine if you need to work on EQ. Following are classic signs you could benefit from training:
1) You don’t feel comfortable with opposing views
Do you get defensive or shutdown when people disagree with you? Leaders with high EQ expect and welcome a range of opinions and are adept at sifting through competing viewpoints to arrive at the most optimal conclusions. If the urge arises to push away conflicting ideas, you probably should explore growing your EQ.
2) You are ineffective at getting others to help you achieve goals
Failing to motivate your team and others is like being dead in the water for a leader. Nine times out of 10, EQ is the issue.
3) You feel awkward speaking up
Leaders with strong IQ are unafraid to speak their mind and address conflict. This simple litmus test is an easy way to immediately begin to improve your EQ in this area.
4) You are anxious
Some self-doubt is healthy. It keeps us on our toes. But, if you find yourself racked with worry to the point you can’t sleep, improving your EQ is a must.
5) You lack executive presence
You get the sense that your style or how you come across to others is putting people off. For example, you provide too much information and not enough inspiration or you exhibit too much flash and not enough substance lacking authenticity and compassion. Working on your EQ can help you strike the right balance.
6) You don’t delegate
If you consistently feel the overwhelming need to jump in and do it yourself, you likely need to develop EQ. Leaders with high EQ rarely bother with micromanaging. They understand completely why it’s a fool’s errand.
The sooner an executive realizes they need to work to cultivate EQ the better. Studies show it takes about three years to develop the knowledge and skills to lead effectively. The good news is that, unlike IQ, your capacity to improve your EQ is unbounded.