How do we Develop Emotional Intelligence?

by | 19 March 2021 | Emotional Engagement, Leadership, Perception, Performance

We’ve recently been coaching a group of Directors from one of the ‘Big 4’ accountancy/consultancy firms to help them with this very thing. Emotional Intelligence (or EI/EQ as it’s often referred to) is an essential component for successful leadership.

What do you think of when you hear the term Emotional Intelligence?

Someone who is really good at interacting with others? Someone who has great empathy and can read others well? Someone who communicates well with others?

This was certainly my understanding. I used to think that how we relate with others was all EI was about. In fact there are many more facets to emotional intelligence. It’s as much focused on the relationship you have with yourself and your own skills as it is on the relationship you have with others.

We use the EQi 2.0 tool (the world’s leading measure for EI) to evaluate an individual’s key attributes of emotional intelligence…which in a nutshell are:

  • Self perception (self-regard, self-actualisation, emotional self-awareness)
  • Self expression (emotional expression, assertiveness, independence)
  • Interpersonal (Interpersonal relationships, empathy, social responsibility)
  • Decision Making (problem solving, reality testing, impulse control)
  • Stress Management (flexibility, stress tolerance, optimism)

There’s more to it than you think! Reading the list above, are any of the behaviours surprising? Not many people realise self-regard is an important component of EI.

Realise that all EQ skills are learnable!

EQ differs from IQ in that it is not fixed. Cognitive Intelligence peaks at 17–18 years of age whereas Emotional intelligence can be developed and tends to increase steadily with age. The EQi tool we use measures the frequency of these behaviours rather than ability. So once we’re aware of the behaviours we want more of, we can proactively practice and master these in time.

It’s all about the balance

Lastly, what’s important is about the balance of the attributes. It might be problematic to have very high assertiveness and low impulse control for example. It’s important to note that no single attribute is more important than the other.

How to apply this

To be successful, leaders need to create a balance of strengths across the suite of Emotional Intelligence skills. As ever, awareness is the first step followed by deciding what you want more of and then creating small steps to get there.


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