By Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed.
A few years ago a man named Bill wanted to learn how to be a better manager and leader. He found an executive coach, and everything went great during their first meeting until the coach mentioned emotional intelligence (EQ). Bill said he had no interest in dealing with people’s emotions, he just wanted more effectiveness from his team.
Thankfully, Bill agreed, albeit reluctantly, to learn about EQ.
A common misunderstanding is that emotional intelligence means learning only about emotions. Emotions are just part of the picture. A simple way to define EQ is understanding that people want to feel safe, and exercising good EQ means creating an environment in which people can thrive while operating within their natural motivational, behavioral and cognitive styles without feeling criticized or squelched.
How do emotions factor in?
All humans are emotional creatures, and it’s important to remember that emotions factor into all aspects of how we operate.
For example, emotions play a large role in how we develop learned motivators. Strong positive or negative emotional experiences between the ages of 0 and 4 can create lasting imprints, and those imprints can attract us to or repel us from different activities.
As an illustration, think about a young child whose parents regularly criticize wealthy people, describing them as greedy and selfish. Such a strong emotional imprint can drive that person to avoid acquiring wealth throughout her whole life. A fear of criticism from those who care most about her may get in the way of her financial stability.
Learning EQ doesn’t require psychological training, it just helps to know that an emotional imprint affects what “drives” us.
Emotions also factor into behavioral styles. Those with Dominant/Driver styles tend to have short fuse. They get angry easily, but they cool off just as quickly. Influencing/Expressive types tend to be enthusiastic. Steady/Amiable types tend not to display their emotions, but it’s good to remember that still waters run deep. Conscientious/Analytical styles tend to fear the consequences of bad decisions.
Finally, know that emotions are also tied to Cognitive styles. Extraverts get excited about being with others, whereas introverts get emotionally drained if they’re around people too long. They need time to recharge! Also, “Feelers” tend to process information with greater expression, whereas “Thinkers” process in a more “matter-of-fact” fashion.
Bottom line, learning EQ isn’t all about studying emotions. However, knowing how emotions impact our motivations and how emotions are displayed in different behavioral and cognitive styles will give you insights in how to be a more effective manager or leader. EQ is not about controlling other’s emotions; it’s about knowing what to expect and adapting instead of criticizing.
In other words, if you know your own style and the styles of your coworkers, you can anticipate people’s tendencies and plan for them, thus making you more effective. This is what happened with Bill. And yes, now he’s a much more effective manager and leader.
Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach him through his website at MyWorkplaceExcellence.com or call his office at 208-375-7606.