The Important Role of the Right “Q” in the Workplace

As leaders, one way we make predictions about potential success is through IQ, intelligence testing. First developed in the early 1900s, these tests have become standard tools for the military, school placement, and human resource departments. But what do these tests measure or really predict? If you took the SAT as part of your college entrance application, and didn’t do well, but still graduated with top honors from a university, you’ve experienced first-hand that human intelligence cannot and should not be bound by a number.

If we simply ignore IQ and build our teams with a balance of race, gender, class, and culture that would be what many experts tout as a diversified workforce. But putting diversity aside for a moment, we still have to remember that each person, regardless of his or her diversity, is unique. Each person has experiences, a personality, and abilities. Hiring managers and teams still need to make personnel decisions based on traits and abilities that do not always include technical abilities.

In my book, How Not to Act Like a BLEEP at Work, the protagonist, Louise Jackson is a technically astute middle manager who has inherited a diverse team. She’s annoyed by their personal problems, their need to share the ups and downs of their client interactions, and fails to see how she is losing control of her project. She suffers from a lack of interpersonal skills, particularly empathy. She is sent to work with a mentor with the dark cloud hanging over her head that unless there is improvement in her leadership and team, she’ll be looking for a new job. She confides in her mentor that, “Some people at this company are just too thin-skinned. They expect you to worry about their feelings and what is going on with them outside of the office. This is work, for goodness’ sake. You come here to get the job done.”

Lou needs to learn about EQ or emotional intelligence.

What is EQ?
Emotional Intelligence is arguably a more critical element of success than IQ in determining a cohesive productive team in the workplace.  The Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology lists three major models of emotional intelligence, Mayer-Salovey, Daniel Goleman and Rueven Bar-On.  The Mayer-Salovey model defines this as the ability to perceive, understand, manage and use emotions to facilitate thinking.  The Goleman model views EQ as an assortment of emotional and social competencies that contribute to successful managerial performance and leadership.  The Bar-On model describes EQ as an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and behaviors that impact intelligent behavior.

There are five composites of Emotional Intelligence that make up Bar-On’s EQ-I 2.0 model; self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, decision making, and stress management.  Arguably, the most important for successful leadership is that of interpersonal skills. Healthy engagement with these proficiencies allows you to understand, connect and relate better with others and become more successful in positions that require social connection and esprit de corps.

Yet many leaders bristle at the use of the term empathy. Some find it difficult to care about things outside of the production of work, but as the workforce becomes more diversified, empathy and EQ skills are essential for success.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important in the Workplace?
You hear the term company culture thrown around frequently in modern organizations. Any research on values and goals tells you that when values and goals align in the workplace, organizations are more successful.

From a management standpoint, if you are working at cross-purposes with your employees, your productivity will be stunted. It may be easier to quantify and calibrate technical skills but the behavioral skills found within EQ fuel the growth of your business.

Organizations can benefit from bringing in a knowledgeable consultant to facilitate EQ growth utilizing assessments such as the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 to evaluate emotional intelligence in management, employees, and teams. From there an interactive program to work with individuals and teams will cultivate valuable resources to improve effective communication. In the case of my struggling protagonist, Lou, she participates a formal mentoring program. Through stories, I show how she learns how to work with her team and increase organizational productivity. Those strategies will work for the real characters in our offices too!

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