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What’s Your EQ, and Why Does It Matter?

Originally Published in: HR Daily Advisor

Liam walks into an important meeting and sits down. Within minutes, the group’s attention is on him and his division. One of the top executives asks him a tough question, and he freezes. The executives infer that Liam isn’t as competent as they believed. They fail to realize he is a high performer and that his team has great respect for him.

Liam likely is an introvert and needs time to process what he’s heard and form an opinion or provide feedback. He has a hard time “thinking on his feet.” He feels trapped, and he realizes how his actions make him look in the moment. However, he doesn’t understand that his unconscious reaction to the power differential is hindering his climb up the corporate ladder.

Once Liam recognizes the issue, he can learn to identify his emotions and how they are affecting his behavior, and take action to make corrections. Then he will be better prepared to navigate meetings with top executives. That will reduce his stress in the situations, leading to better emotional and mental health and higher job satisfaction.

Sense of Entitlement? Or Lack of Empathy?

Jill goes in to see her boss, Sarah, to ask if she can change her work hours. Sarah quickly shuts down the conversation, suggesting the business can’t be built around individual employees’ needs and preferences. As Jill leaves, Sarah can’t help but think, “Why does she feel like she’s entitled to a special schedule?”

What Sarah fails to understand is that the company made employees go part-time and took away their benefits. Jill is now struggling financially and must go to the food bank for groceries to feed her children. Beyond that, the company moved all employees to 4-hour shifts to make scheduling easier.

The problem is, Jill lives far enough away that the cost of gas eats up a great deal of her pay. Working the same number of hours, but in 8-hour shifts, would help ease the financial burden of the extra gas costs. Sarah failed to listen to the reason behind her request, which shows a lack of empathy.

Behavior Regulation

One of Xander’s employees lets him know that a major initiative is behind schedule. The delay could cost the company a great deal of money, and even a couple of important potential customers. Xander proceeds to publicly berate the employee. He rationalizes his behavior because he feels the employee made a mistake and isn’t demonstrating the needed sense of urgency.

The employee hears yelling, feels fear, and has trouble even digesting Xander’s message. Xander inherently knows that his behavior is wrong, but he can’t seem to control himself. He chooses an unproductive path because he struggles to regulate his behavior.

Liam, Jill, and Xander all suffer from a lack of emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient, or EQ. We’ve all seen similar situations at work. We know how much they destroy productivity and morale and hinder the success of relationships, teams, and businesses. Yet we consistently promote and rely on employees who lack EQ.

Fixing 3 Fatal Assumptions about EQ

Here are three fatal assumptions about EQ that employers should avoid making:

EQ is soft. Nothing could be further from the truth. Accounting firm Grant Thornton engaged in a 5-year organizational transformation in which it built EQ into its leadership training program. The company saw a 35% revenue increase and a 16% uplift in client satisfaction.

Studies have shown that EQ is attributed to 58% of job performance, and 90% of top performers have a high EQ. In one study of restaurant performance, locations with managers having a high EQ achieved profit growth of 22% versus the average growth of 15%. EQ eats IQ for breakfast!

You can’t measure EQ. There are numerous assessments out there that measure a person’s EQ. Some are better than others, so do your research to find one with a higher level of reliability and accuracy. However, just measuring EQ isn’t enough. Make sure you tie the measurement to a growth process.

You can’t argue with results. Don’t settle for short-term results over sustainable results. You can push people until they burn out, check out, or leave. You can scare people into performing well for short bursts.

Don’t let short-term numbers trick you into thinking your leaders are successful or convince you that your business is doing better than it really is. Remember, it’s a long game. High turnover, bad PR, and a lack of engagement will catch up to your business.

Having a high EQ is a reliable growth strategy for you, your team, and your company. We hire people with high IQs, and we fire them because of low EQs. Raise the EQ of your company before your competition eats you for breakfast.

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