Two women multigenerational connection steve white
December 8, 2020

Are You the Gap or the Bridge?

The next time you have the opportunity to work with a team that’s critical to your success, consider evaluating everyone’s emotional intelligence—both individually and for each other.

I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t part of a team. My mom and three brothers were my first team. My wife and I later formed another cherished team with our son. Throughout my life, high school sports, college projects, and every career move involved collaborating with a new set of personalities and agendas. Getting along with my teams in life meant that I not only managed my emotions, but I looked for ways to be in harmony with others. 

Consider your own work experience, and I bet you’d be hard-pressed to think of a challenge or a success that didn’t involve interaction with another person. The ability to manage emotions and healthy relationships is a core competency of every self-aware leader. 

When I was cutting my teeth as a regional marketing manager in the early ’90s, researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer coined this self-awareness aptitude as “emotional intelligence.” Thirty years later, Tasha Eurich led a study that revealed a stunning conclusion: 95 percent of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10 to 15 percent actually have this competency. What a gap! 

Close to 80 percent of us may be mentally pointing the finger at someone else on the team because we don’t think we’re the problem. Conversely, we may be underestimating the ways in which we’re adding value to those around us. Eurich points out that colleagues who lack self-awareness are cutting a team’s chances for success by half. 

If this realization lights a fire in your belly, you’re not alone. It’s essential you create a feedback loop with your team that’s grounded in EI competencies. I was fortunate to have completed this important exercise for the first time about five years ago with my team at Comcast. What made it especially helpful was that I measured my own emotional intelligence and compared the results against my team’s assessment of me. The process was eye-opening. 

Thanks to this blended approach to evaluation, I could identify my blind spots. While I worked on improvement in those areas, I saw that better interactions led to better results. I also learned that I had joined the company of other leaders who recognized the importance of emotional intelligence. A study by CareerBuilder reported that 71 percent of employers value EI over IQ. Another 75 percent say they’re more likely to promote the high-EI employee. 

If you’re interested in measuring your emotional intelligence, there are a lot of online tools that are free. In the meantime, here are the top five reasons employers said EI is more important than IQ in order of importance according to CareerBuilder. Employees:

  1. Admit and learn from their mistakes
  2. Know how to resolve conflict effectively
  3. Are empathetic to their team members and react accordingly
  4. Lead by example
  5. Tend to make more thoughtful business decisions

The next time you have the opportunity to work with a team that’s critical to your success, consider evaluating everyone’s emotional intelligence—both individually and for each other. Sure, it may be a little tough at first to hear about your gaps in self-awareness. You’ll soon forget about any initial discomfort when you begin to build bridges to greater self-awareness and a newfound appreciation for effective collaboration.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Steve sig black 150

Here are a few links to get you started:

Harvard Business Review – Quiz Yourself: Do You Lead with Emotional Intelligence?

Global Leadership Foundation – Emotional Intelligence Test

Mind Tools – Emotional Intelligence Quiz

Institute for Health and Human Potential – Test Your Emotional Intelligence with Our Free Quiz 

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