Emotional Intelligence Level

Facilitated by:
Frank Ciecierski, Jerry Walsh, and Winston Lau

In our consulting, training, and coaching with manufacturing companies, we have met some very interesting people:

  • Joe, the Plant Manager, alienates all his direct reports by his intimidating and abrasive style. In particular, he lacks the sensitivity and tact to deal with minority employees. He is both hated and feared by them.
  • Nancy, the Accounting Manager, demands and insists that her people work around the clock against totally unrealistic targets, regardless of their personal situations. She promises the moon to her boss; and when she does not get her way, it is always somebody else’s fault. She aspires to becoming the youngest VP in the history of the company.
  • Bill, the HR Manager, is late to meetings, late on projects and late on returning phone calls. He is always putting out fires because of his inability to plan and organize his work, in spite of close supervision by his boss. He would rather spend most of his time blaming others when things are not done.
  • Danny, the Maintenance Foreman, runs around all day as if his world is coming to an end. He often reacts to others with angry outbursts. His people have learned to avoid him and tell him what he wants to hear as he goes through his mood swings.
  • Jane, the Customer Service Supervisor, does exactly what she is told and no more, even if the problems are obvious. She comes in late, leaves early, and observes her coffee breaks religiously, in spite of pressing backorders and delivery requirements.

Do you have some of these employees in your organization? They all seem to have the functional expertise required to do their jobs, but their overall effectiveness is still low…

Emotional Intelligence, not IQ, is the most common element among successful people. EI is the ability to make rational decisions even in highly emotional and stress producing situations.

According to Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Working With Emotional Intelligence, there are five basic competencies of EI: Self-Awareness, Self- Regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills. Dr. Goleman defines emotional intelligence as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

The tasks and responsibilities of the job determine the degree of importance of any one of the five competencies. For example, the job of an Air Traffic Controller requires a significantly high degree of self-regulation, especially during emergency situations, while a lower degree of social skills. On the other hand, a social worker requires a significantly high degree of empathy and social skills.

The tasks and responsibilities of the job determine the degree of importance of any one of the five competencies. For example, the job of an Air Traffic Controller requires a significantly high degree of self-regulation, especially during emergency situations, while a lower degree of social skills. On the other hand, a social worker requires a significantly high degree of empathy and social skills.

In managers and leaders, functional expertise is necessary in establishing the processes in getting the job done efficiently. However, how the job is done and the consequences for the way the job is done determine effectiveness. The latter is largely a function of one’s emotional intelligence. Effective leadership results from leaders with high degrees of emotional intelligence, much more so than the leaders’ functional expertise.

According to Spencer & Spencer in Competence at Work, the fact that the most important competencies among star performers stem from emotional intelligence is no surprise for, say, salespeople. However, even among scientists and those in technical professions, analytical thinking ranks third, after the ability to influence and the drive to achieve – both Emotional Intelligence attributes.

Consider this far-too-common scenario. Alex, the President of a medium-size company, walks into Mary’s office as he does on an almost weekly basis and says angrily, “I don’t understand why people can’t simply do what I tell them to do! When I left last night, I wrote specific instructions to have three copies of this report made and on my desk by ten o’clock this morning. It’s now ten thirty and I still don’t have them. What’s wrong with your staff? Can’t they read English?” Mary, the Office Manager, has been with the firm for eight years. She replies “Alex, you seem upset. I know it’s frustrating to you when your instructions aren’t followed. I will have copies made for you immediately, and I will find out why your instructions were not followed. Is there any other way I can help you right now?”

Alex is angry and takes his anger out on Mary. Mary recognizes his anger and effectively handles the situation, diffusing the emotion and solving the problem. Mary is demonstrating a high level of Emotional Intelligence. Alex is not. Alex is being controlled by his emotions, and as a result, his behavior is reactive and explosive. Mary, while caught off guard, is still in control of her emotions. Her behavior, therefore, is contemplative and calm. It is Mary’s actions that insure the working relationship with Alex will remain productive.

Mary was in a potentially explosive situation. She could easily have gotten defensive and returned Alex’s attack. The resulting anger would have revealed itself in many other situations throughout the day – not only with each other, but also with peers and subordinates. Mary, in an instant, was able to recognize and control her emotion, move to action, and manage the interaction with Alex in a way that calmed Alex as well.

There is good and bad news about EI. The good news is that it can be learned. The bad news is that the more entrenched our habits are, the harder and longer it takes to change them.

There is no quick fix training program to increase Emotional Intelligence. You need to determine the key Emotional Competencies for your job and focus on improving them one by one. Change takes involvement, commitment, and persistence.

There are, however, some things you can do to begin the process.

Here are some steps you can take to begin to increase your Emotional IQ:

  • Monitor yourself and keep track of what gets your temper flaring. Identify your emotional “triggers.”
  • Find someone who handles the same kind of situations better than you do. Talk with them and find out how they do it.
  • Notice the signals in your body that let you know your trigger is being activated.
  • Take an immediate action to short circuit the emotion (use deep breathing, counting to 10, walking away for a short while, or other techniques).
  • Repeat these steps until you have mastered the particular kind of situation.

As you build your competencies, you will increase your ability to deal with everyday pressure situations with calmness and control. You will be able to better manage your own situational emotional response, and effectively manage it in others.



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