Emotional Intelligence

Yesterday, I was intrigued to read some research published in 'Business Week' that perhaps explains the poor state of many firms at present. It showed that people's emotional intelligence had been shown to steadily rise up to middle management levels, and then plummet after that. Alarming; as it would suggest that many of those vested with the most power within an organisation, have the least wherewithall to deal with it. (See link)

To explain this phenomenon, I thought it useful to go back to the four 'pillars' of emotional intelligence:

  • self awareness - the ability to 'know thyself' and the impact we have on other people
  • self management (self control) - the ability to chose which emotion will drive our action, rather than simply re-acting to others who may press our buttons
  • awareness of others - the ability to see things from another's perspective
  • relationship management - how we interact with the world

In my experience, all learning starts with self-awareness. Unless you know and accept how you are and how others see you, what chance have you to change, adapt and develop? With so many senior managers excluded from appraisal systems, few get chance to hear what others think of them. This often means their own self-perception goes unchecked. What feedback they do get is often focused on targets rather than on behaviour and outcomes. What surprise is it then that so many managers lose their objective sense of self and get on with managing as they have always done, with little awareness of how outdated this might be in the current environment?

As for the solution, it seems to be 3-fold:

  • ecouraging open and honest feedback at ALL levels of an organisation
  • external coaching to provide an objective perspective and encourage self-reflection
  • a willingess to adapt and change

And motivation is the key to the last point here and that is a whole different matter!


The article can be found here. Kate's comment on the article can be found here.