Every staff member in my association workplace is required to accrue a minimum of two hours of continuing education per year. It is part of my job as the administrative assistant to review and evaluate courses offered by our PEO – Professional Employees Organization – and other third party vendors for applicability in my particular work environment.
Emotional Intelligence is the topic of nearly every training brochure that has crossed my desk recently so I enrolled the staff in a training called ‘Emotional Intelligence and Your Leadership Skills.’
The training was conducted through my company’s PEO, Total Resolutions for Association Employees. After the training, I did additional reading on my own in Daniel Golman’s book, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace. I have capsulized much of what I learned during training and through my personal reading for the contents of this article.
In 1990, two university professors, Peter Salovey and John Mayer, published papers that defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to perceive, use, understand and manage emotions effectively.”
Employers recognize that hiring an emotionally intelligent individual makes the difference between a highly effective leader and an average one. Leaders who are persuasive and can bring people together help to create competitive advantages for their organizations. Such leaders increase production, innovation, and create team players, which ensures that time and resources are used effectively.
An emotionally intelligent individual is a good listener; the person who makes eye contact and smiles while speaking during a meeting. You trust this person. But are you this person? Are you a leader?
You may already score high on the ‘EI’ scale if you possess some or all of the following attributes:
- 1. You express your feelings effectively. For example, during a conflict with a co-worker you say, “I feel we are not accomplishing anything right now. Why don’t we discuss this later when we both have had time to think?”
- 2. You do not let negative emotions occupy your mind. You maintain a positive mindset both on and off the job.
- 3. You are receptive to non-verbal cues from others and you act upon them.
- 4. During times of stress and confusion you remain focused and drive the situation to a positive outcome.
- 5. You can bring people together for a common goal.
If you truly believe you’ve got what it takes to play a leadership role in your company, but you are still being passed over for promotions, then it’s time to do an honest evaluation of yourself to determine if you have a low ‘EI’:
- 1. Can you tell someone what you feel without blaming someone or something else?
- 2. Are you prone to exaggerate how you feel, or do you shirk your true feelings?
- 3. Do you carry grudges in your professional and personal life?
- 4. Can you admit that you made a mistake?
- 5. Are you critical of others and see no good in the efforts your co-workers make?
- 6. Are you a poor listener who interrupts to get your point across before anyone else does?
- 7. Are you filled with dread in anticipation of an upcoming review?
- 8. Is it hard to concentrate on today’s task because you are worried about what happened yesterday?
Such traits may be long ingrained, most likely since childhood, and while you did not learn them in one day it will certainly take time to grow away from them.
My coworkers and I shared mixed reviews when we evaluated ourselves for emotional intelligence. We admitted that we held some of the traits from each group. We walked away with a new awareness of ourselves, and while not everyone strives to be a leader, we felt a new appreciation for those among us who had stepped up to the challenge to lead.
Learn more about emotional intelligence and leadership by checking your local or online bookstore for books on emotional intelligence in the workplace. If your company offers ongoing education, chose a course that will help you to develop emotional intelligence. If you know someone whom you identify as emotionally intelligent, ask that person to mentor you.