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Jan 7, 201609:41 AMOpen Mic

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Your emotional IQ matters — Here’s how to increase yours

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Leadership development programs designed to increase emotional intelligence have matured during the last 15 years. So why haven’t we seen a big change in the way executives relate to one other? Despite reading books and articles, taking assessments, and attending seminars, leaders still lean toward old habits.

Emotional Intelligence scores typically climb with titles, but peak with middle management, according to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Any higher up the ladder and the scores plummet. CEOs rank at the bottom.

Poison still exists in the boardroom

Toxic behaviors from leaders are still prevalent, from the warehouse to the boardroom. Leaders openly yell at, embarrass, and publicly criticize subordinates. Tempers flare, anger surfaces, and emotions are unchecked or mismanaged. In toxic work cultures, passive aggressiveness is the rule not the exception.

This happens for two reasons: One, leaders simply don’t have sufficient desire to be better (i.e., they don’t care). The other is lack of self-awareness.

All models of emotional intelligence start with a foundation of self-awareness. Most coaching time should be spent on self-awareness because that is where the gold is still to be found. There are two ways to gain self-awareness:

  • Listen to and honestly examine the stories you are telling yourself in your head. Are they true? How do you know? This simply requires quiet time for self-reflection and to practice mindfulness.
  • Seek feedback from others. This requires you to identify people who feel safe with you, who you would freely invite to tell you how they react to you, and how they think others react to you. It requires honesty and, of course, the right time and environment where the conversation can occur without interruption.


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