IQ to EQ: An Evolution in Leadership

As much as we can discuss about work-life balance or employee happiness in management forums across the world, the question of emotional management for leaders continues to be an area that requires exploration. Most entrepreneurs work around the clock, be it networking on the field or emailing pitches from their laptops. This leaves little or no scope for them to pay attention to their growing stress levels. Imagine if a leader bursts out during a business pitch due to a tussle with the client, he/she will not only draw blank business but also affect professional relationships in disastrous ways. In a nutshell, a leader needs to move beyond talent or mere professional skills, to understand the playoff emotions at a pragmatic level. Hence this article addresses the critical transition a leader needs to undergo from Intelligence Quotient (IQ) to Emotional Quotient (EQ).

In 2001, a Case Western Reserve research explored the contagious nature of emotions at the workplace and the impact of leaders’ emotional states to their companies’ financial success. Since then, this theory has witnessed numerous additions and negations, nonetheless with an intact crux: for the financial success of a company, one needs an empathetic leader as opposed to a ruthless boss.

What is the difference between a boss and a leader?

How to work towards a higher Emotional Quotient?

To walk down the path of a fulfilling leadership experience, follow the road map charted below based on Daniel Goleman’s psychological theory of Emotional Intelligence. Although from a vantage point, the three pointers I am about to list may look like stepping stones to EQ, each of them are dual in nature; and you cannot achieve one without the other.

1.     Self-awareness & Introspection:

At the surface level, everything may seem perfect with an individual’s personality until the good as well as bad qualities in them are consciously observed. The same theory holds true for self-awareness; while practicing it, closely observe the manner in which you speak, react or behave when interacting with your team. At the end of the day, slow down a little and introspect the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of improving on the bad qualities and strengthening the good ones. A mentor, who you are candid and comfortable with, can be a litmus test to point out your areas of improvement.

Tip: Maintain a daily journal of introspection and observations to track your personal growth.

2.     Listen & Empathise:

In order to build great social skills with the team, begin by listening completely, as opposed to listening selectively. Listen in an unbiased manner and in context; observe the person’s body language while having a conversation. These knick-knacks will help you decrypt the emotions of your team-members, bringing you a notch closer to empathising with them.

Tip: Observe how another team reacts to their team leader’s feedback, as well as observe how your team reacts to you. By watching the reactions, you will be able to gauge whether the leadership is effective or not, and accordingly steer the ship.

3.     Motivation & Self-regulation:

What’s your inner motivation to work towards a greater emotional quotient? As soon you identify it, note it down. Your motivation could be either financial success in business or solidarity with your team or improvisation on personal and professional productivity. Whatever it may be, once the motive is clear, recognise and re-channel the actions that don’t fit inside your circle of motivation. Practice being calm and hold yourself completely accountable for any progression or digression you make. If you are not an emotional person, respond to emotions of others, and if you are the impulsive kind, then don’t make the run with emotions. Either way, let me forewarn you that leaping out of your comfort zone is needed to climb higher on the EQ ladder.

Tip: Write down your motivation for improving EQ and read it multiple times by looking in the mirror until it consumes you and keeps you inspired from within.

In this way, Emotional Quotient can be game-changing for an entrepreneur, but even so, not in isolation. Remember to blend your professional excellence along with the right dosage of EQ, and shake it well. Experiment, practice and devise your perfect strategy; go on and climb your way through to the top with grace and a sense of fulfilment.

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