Have you ever been around a person who, though extremely capable in a certain skill set, always remained “stuck” because they were not able to manage themselves or relationships with people?
I have too.
And those situations are always a bit awkward. In an earlier life, I used to be a team leader for a group that administered retirement plans. I had some stellar teammates, but there were a few that frequently caused me to go “Hmmm” about them.
I recall one individual on my team who was a very capable analyst. He could do the work and do it well. In other words, he had the IQ for the position. But the guy was a loose cannon when it came to relationships. No one wanted to work with him or around him. He was neither self aware of managing his own emotions nor socially aware of managing the relationships around him. Yelling at clients on the phone, complaints from teammates – needless to say, he and I had a few confrontational conversations between us.
I would say that though this analyst was very high in his IQ, he was horribly low in his EQ. And it cost him greatly.
So what is EQ? It simply is an acronym referring to “Emotional Intelligence.” As IQ relates to intellect, EQ points to a person’s emotional intellect. What makes EQ unique?
Emotional intelligence is not about traditional intelligence. It is about our ability to handle ourselves and others. It is all about our ability to get along with others and build relationships.
I fear that many believe the essence of leading and influence is all about how proficient they are at that “something.” Getting the job done. Making it happen.
And don’t get me wrong. These are important traits.
But a high EQ actually has more influence than you may think in your own performance as a leader. I read a recent article in Forbes that stated Emotional Intelligence
is the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.
In fact, according to a workplace study, 90% of the best performers were also high in emotional intelligence. In contrast to that, only 20% of the lowest performers were also proficient in emotional intelligence skills.
EQ matters. A lot.
So what defines a high EQ person?
There are four core elements of EQ that support “good health” in the area of emotional intelligence:
- High EQ individuals are self aware. They know their strengths and weaknesses and their tendencies of their own brokenness. They are able to get to the root issues of their problems.
- High EQ individuals conduct self management. As Proverbs 4:23 says, they guard their heart above anything else, because it determines their course of life.
- High EQ individuals are aware of their social settings. They can “read” emotions and non-verbal cues given by another. They can sense unspoken outcomes between relationships.
- High EQ individuals are gifted at managing relationships. By being aware of social interactions, they communicate what is necessary and needful and manage conflict well.
Though I do not agree with much of the liberal psychology in how to be a high-performing EQ person, I have seen firsthand that developing my own EQ through biblical concepts has served me well. It is a legitimate growth point for me. Colossians 3:12-14 provides me the needed emotional intelligence perspective to have with myself and with others:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
One benefit of a high EQ
As a leader who is shaped by the Gospel, developing my own EQ is very much in line with the emphasis found in the Gospel: 1) knowing my own heart and its tendencies and 2) reading and managing relationships to know how to best help in a person’s growth. Why are these so important? Because the essence of the Gospel is very much about my interaction with people. The Gospel is relational and demands that I put a premium on relationships.
One caution of a high EQ
Because of my own brokenness and sin in my life, my tendency is to take any good gift of God and make it all about me. My own EQ is no exception.
What do I mean? Simply this – that in an effort to really pay attention to the social interactions and social cues around me, I can easily fall into people-pleasing and my efforts to manage relationships gradually turns into an effort to make sure everyone views me favorably. Serving others can quickly turn into serving me if I lose my Gospel focus. Managing relationships can turn into managing my image.
Things can change
Emotional intelligence is not something you are just born with or not. Obviously some are more naturally gifted in this area, but take heart that you can improve, grow, and develop your own EQ. It is an aspect of influence that is not talked about a lot, and I am not sure why.
Though IQ is certainly important, it is just a small piece of the puzzle. The awareness and management of your strengths and weaknesses in tandem with the awareness and management of your social interactions will create opportunities that may end up surprising you.