What is EQ (and How You Can Develop It)?

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If you are tracking even loosely with current trends in business or education, you have heard of the term emotional intelligence.

Without cracking open a dictionary, I am sure many of you have created a working definition for the phrase.

Let me share a quick history with you and broaden that definition.

Back in 1990, two men, John Mayer and Peter Salovey did groundbreaking research on the topic of emotional intelligence and the ability to measure it. They established that there could be an EQ, or emotional quotient, that measures the ability of individuals to manage and analyze their own emotional responses and the emotional responses of others.

Their research supported that how you manage yourself, and how you relate to others is more relevant than people first believed. They proposed that perhaps, it was even more relevant than intelligence (IQ).

In 1995, a man by the name of Daniel Goleman wrote a book that put their findings in a format the average person found accessible. The book took off in numerous circles, and people started talking about the ramifications of EQ.

So how do we break down their findings?

Goleman, along with others, has divided emotional intelligence into five different skillsets or categories.

Since Goleman’s publication, there have been a few books written on the topic. People go back and forth on the terminology, but here is the list that I like best.

The Five Components of Emotional Intelligence

  1. Self-Awareness: Am I in touch with my strengths and weaknesses? Do I know the impact I am having on others and can I manage that impact?
  2. Self-Regulation: Can I manage my heart, my emotions, and my self-talk? More importantly, can I manage those things in a way that produces healthy outcomes?
  3. Personal Motivation: Do I take responsibility to be proactive, and manage my energy? Can I manage my passion and my time?
  4. Empathy: Do I have the ability to get outside of my perspective and make room for others? Do I seek to understand, instead of being understood?
  5. Social Skills: Do I relate well to others? Can I be friendly? Can I be approachable? Can I work effectively with others?

Why is EQ so important?

In professional settings, it used to be that we were judged primarily by our intellect. It was your IQ that opened doors of opportunity in the workplace.

Today, that is shifting.

There are multiple reasons for why the spotlight is moving away from IQ and more towards EQ.

One of the primary reasons—a copious amount of information is available at the touch of a key. With artificial intelligence, it is available with the sound of your voice.

Because of what is happening with AI, information is accessible to almost anyone.

The differentiator in hiring is no longer focused on who is the most intelligent. Employers are looking at who is most suited to lead.

And, as research is showing, a person’s EQ can help determine one’s ability to do just that.

EQ, as it relates to professional leadership, can be distilled to these two primary components:

  • Can I manage myself well?
  • Can I relate well to others?

The differentiator in hiring is no longer focused on who is the most intelligent.

The area that has been most impacted by EQ is education.

Educators have jumped on the EQ movement with full force. Many find it helpful for creating healthy learning environments. Educators know that they can do little to affect a student’s IQ. However, because EQ is not predetermined or set as an adolescent—educators can affect one’s EQ rather dramatically.

Here is an example in higher education.

My daughter-in-law is currently attending Harvard Business School. She is obviously a very bright young woman. She wouldn’t have been accepted into the program if she were not. But in addition to the skills and understanding you would expect to encounter within a class of MBA intellectuals, she is finding a large focus on the understanding and self-actualization of how she leads.

She is shocked by how much EQ influences and drives the way her professors structure the classroom as well as the content they are trying to train. They want to know if she can lead well. How she leads and relates to others is an intricate component of EQ.

How can I develop and strengthen my EQ?

When I talk about the five components of EQ (self-awareness, self-regulation, personal motivation, empathy, and social skills) I am highly aware of the fact that they are all utilized in difficult conversations.

I would even go as far as to say that they are equally strengthened and trained through the process of a difficult conversation.

You may not want to hear this, but by leaning into difficult conversations, you will be developing the muscles needed to be effective at leadership and in strengthening your EQ.

Google has invested a great deal of money into learning how to attract and retain talented people within their company. More so than bright people (although that it is important) they need people who can effectively lead. They need people who can rally a department, an organization, or a team to accomplish a purpose. IQ alone doesn’t determine one’s ability to do that.

The business world is awakening to the need for people with a high EQ. The good news for you—regardless of the stage of life you are in, you can further develop and strengthen it.

These are just a few insights that will help you navigate those critical conversations in your life and career, but there’s so much more.

There are powerful tools that can really help you become more effective, and we at Ember Learning are here to help. With over 25 years of professional consulting in top businesses around the country, we want to share some of our top insights with you.

Download our FREE PDF “15 Ways to Turn Hard Conversations into Win-Win Dialogue” now!

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