Time for a Quick EQ Check Up?

In the sometimes-fickle world of leadership development and talent management it is fair to say that Emotional Intelligence or EQ has stood the test of time.

While other concepts and terms have come and gone, EQ is well and truly embedded in the lexicon of best practice.  If anything, the concept has grown in stature.  In fact, many would argue that in today’s business context, EQ is more important than ever.  So, as we continue to confront a very challenging business environment, perhaps now is the right time for an EQ check-up.

The Importance of a Regular EQ Check Up

The term Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) was first introduced by Salovey and Mayer in the early 90s.   They described emotional intelligence as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”.  In the mid-90s, Daniel Goleman popularised the concept with the release of his book, Emotional Intelligence.  Since then, the concept has continued to gain traction with more than 3,000 scientific articles published on the subject.  Most of these have highlighted the positive impact EQ has on relationships across all domains of life.

In the workplace, studies have shown EQ to be a key differentiator of success, particularly in leadership roles.  According to Talent Smart, 90% of high performers in the workplace possess high EQ, while 80% of low performers have low EQ. And in 2018, McKinsey & Company declared that the need for emotional skills would outpace the demand for cognitive skills through 2030.  Studies conducted since the outbreak of the pandemic have brought into greater focus, the importance of EQ. A global study of leadership by DDI found that organizations with leaders who were stronger in EQ were more prepared to meet the business challenges they faced.  Simply put, emotional intelligence matters.

What is EQ?

By now, most people are relatively familiar with the term EQ but when defining it many gravitate towards one or two aspect of EQ such as self-awareness, empathy, or interpersonal skills.  EQ has several layers to it, and it is important to consider all when assessing and developing EQ.

The EQ model introduced by Daniel Goleman considers several competencies and skills within 5 main constructs.

  • Self-Awareness (confidence, recognition of feelings)
  • Self-Regulation (self-control, trustworthiness, adaptability)
  • Motivation (drive, commitment, initiative, optimism)
  • Empathy (understanding others feelings, diversity, political awareness)
  • Social Skills (leadership, conflict management, communication skills)

Measuring EQ

There are many self-report measures of EQ such as the EQ-I 2.0 which gather data from individuals on their own behaviours and tendencies.  Along with more traditional personality instruments these types of tools provide a useful insight into the drivers and predispositions of behaviour and performance.  But in the end, it is behaviour that counts and so it is important to leverage behavioural measures of EQ.  Behavioural measures of EQ provide insight into how well someone demonstrates emotionally intelligent competencies and behaviours.

According to the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organisations, the most credible source of behavioural insight is the people we work with daily.  They not only get to observe the behaviours, but they also get to feel the impact of these behaviours.  That is why multirater assessment methods such as 360-Degree feedback are such an important part of the EQ measurement approach.

So, do you need a dedicated EQ 360 assessment? 

There are many quality behavioural measures of EQ available.  These instruments have strong research foundations, have been validated over time and offer external benchmarking.  But for most companies, their existing competency framework provides a strong foundation for a 360-Degree assessment of EQ.  This avoids the need to introduce new models and terms while reinforcing the value of the competency framework across the organisation.

While frameworks and language across companies will vary, the types of competencies to include in a measure of EQ should include:

  • Communication
  • Influencing
  • Empathy
  • Collaboration
  • Building and Maintaining Networks
  • Coaching and Developing
  • Empowerment and Delegation
  • Inspiring Team Effectiveness
  • Fostering Diversity and Inclusion
  • Resilience
  • Growth Mindset
  • Receptivity to Change

The Magic in the Mix

Both categories of EQ measurement described above can be extremely useful but the combination of the two will significantly enhance the quality of insight gained.  Behavioural measures allow an individual to obtain perspectives from different stakeholders on how effectively and consistently they apply relevant behaviours.  Personality instruments and self-reported measures of EQ help an individual to understand the underlying preferences and attributes that may be driving or influencing their behaviour.  For example, a tendency to solve problems on behalf of others might be driven by a strong action orientation.  While a strong action orientation may be considered a positive attribute in many cases, it might also have negative implications as a leader if others feel disempowered.

The Development Impact of Self Awareness and Feedback

EQ is based on a set of competencies so the first thing to recognise is that competencies can be developed.  That is not to say that all competencies are created equal.  Some will be more difficult to develop than others. Those that tend to be more difficult to develop are ones that are more rooted in our personality and motivations. They are a more hard-wired and therefore more difficult to change. In many cases developing EQ is much like breaking a bad habit. You must believe that changing your behaviour is critical to your success and then work diligently and consistently to address the challenge that overcoming it presents.

For most people, improving EQ is a life-long journey and a key ingredient of that journey is feedback.  Feedback drives greater self-awareness that becomes the foundation for change.  Surprisingly most of us are not very aware of our own behaviour (internal self-awareness) and even less aware of how other see us (external self-awareness). A study conducted by self-awareness researcher and expert Dr Tasha Eurich found that around 95% of people think they are self-aware while one 10-15% are actually self-aware.

So, while any intervention to address EQ must begin by helping individuals to understand their strengths and areas for improvement, feedback should be on-going.  One way to do this is using pulse surveys.  Pulse surveys allow individuals to assess progress, typically in a subset of behaviours over time. They are commonly used as a follow up to a more comprehensive 360-Degree feedback process and bring focus and accountability to development actions and performance improvement.

Ongoing feedback has always been important but gauging progress and performance in today’s hybrid work context can be harder to achieve. Flexible and remote work is increasing, and this will drive a significant shift in the way leaders and employees engage with each other and obtain feedback.

“Empathy is a fairly sophisticated trait, a mark of emotional adulthood. It takes learning and time.”

Alan Burdick

A Few Final Thoughts for Your EQ Check Up

  • Don’t leave the development of EQ to chance.  Mastering EQ takes practice.  How often you get it ‘right’ comes down to the quality and the frequency of practice.
  • Utilise a mix of measurement approaches to explore the relationship between predispositions such as personality and behaviour. Remember, behaviour rules.
  • Clarify, socialise and develop the key behaviours that underpin effective interpersonal skills.  Ensure individuals have access to the core frameworks and tools that support the growth of EQ competencies
  • Appreciate the multiplier impact of EQ. While often associated with ‘social’ skills, research has found that enhanced EQ will have a positive impact on a broad range of business and leadership skills.
  • Build the self-awareness muscle by making feedback an on-going part of your EQ journey.

If you are looking for more information on competencies or 360-Degree assessments related to EQ, contact us at info@halo-feedback.com

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