Becoming Emotionally Intelligent

by Elaine Cercado

What differentiates a leader? 

More than possessing the best cognitive skills, according to an American psychologist Daniel Goleman, it is having well-developed personal qualities such as able to listen & accept other viewpoints, integrate others’ ideas, and recognize and manage their own emotions, that make one a successful leader.  Goleman studied around 200 leaders from global companies and arrived at this conclusion – that there is a direct correlation between emotional intelligence and successful leadership!

What is emotional intelligence (EI)?

Goleman described emotionally adept people as those who: “Know how to manage their own feelings well and who read and deal effectively with other people’s feelings across borders and cultures.” According to Goleman, there are five competencies of EI that we should develop: self-awareness, self-regulation/management, motivation, empathy & social skills/relationship management.

Why is EI important?

In today’s global world, where people live as “global citizens” – moving and working beyond borders and cultures – it is EI that has become more critical to success than IQ (intelligence quotient).  A person could be the brightest in his/her class or division but not necessarily get promoted into a leadership position if the person lacks some EI; compared to a person who demonstrates high EI but not necessarily the one with the highest IQ. If one develops and demonstrates high levels of performance in the five competencies listed above, they could result to outstanding performances!

How can one become more emotionally intelligent?

The process I teach is simple – ALPF – which stands for assessment, learning, practice, feedback. First is to assess self.  This is important as it establishes areas of strengths and improvements. There are several self-assessment questionnaires available today that one may use to understand self better in the 5 EI competencies. If you wish to get and use one, just email me at info@powerinu.com.sg (subject: request for EI self-assessment).

Second is learning to continuously improve. As the saying goes, “half of the problem is solved when you know what the problem is”. When one is aware that he/she needs to improve on his/her social skills then he/she can try several things such as empathizing more, or researching about the culture and traditions of the network or group one belongs to.  When the area to improve is self-management/ control, then he/she needs to take more responsibility with how he/she expresses her feelings, negative or positive.

Third is to practice. Good practice makes perfect. Knowing the areas of strength and improvement is the first step.  Consciously doing specific steps to maintain the strengths and improve the gaps is the next important step. It’s a continuous process and journey. And it is easier said than done, as one needs to go beyond his / her comfort zone and change his/ her habits. Example would be a change like empathizing more.  People naturally want to think and talk about them selves first, and to be appreciated or recognized. This is one of our most deep-seated desires. Hence, to put oneself in another’s pair of shoes in every situation is easier said than done.

Lastly, is to get feedback from people one interacts with and trusts.  An honest feedback should lead to a new round of ALPF.  Becoming emotionally intelligent is a dynamic process, as one continuously meets new and challenging situations in this constantly changing world.  But when a person is able to master emotional intelligence, he/she can certainly drive outstanding performances at work, enhance quality of relationships in both personal and professional lives, and ultimately, live a more satisfying and peaceful life.

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