Defining Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Jack walked into the office where three of his sales managers were
reviewing the latest sales figures. So engrossed were they in
discussing the disappointing results and what might be causing the
sudden downturn in business, they did not hear him approach. Jack
cleared his throat rather loudly, interrupting an obviously important
and spirited discussion about work. “Kelly,” he said firmly, “I need to
see you about that Allied account. We need to get some information to
corporate.” He turned on his heels, leaving Kelly to wrinkle up her
nose and explain to her colleagues that she would have to get back to
them about continuing this analysis. She quickly followed Jack to his
Assuming that the information corporate needed did not
represent a crisis, how would you assess Jack’s handling of this
situation? What effect did his approach have on Kelly and her
Jack, like too many managers, used the “boss” technique to get
what he wanted done. He demonstrated poor social skills and
possibly did long-term damage to goodwill by first assuming
that the obviously work-related discussion was not particularly
important, and then by barging in on it. Kelly and her
colleagues would have been much more interested in
complying with Jack’s request had he:
1) waited until there was a good stopping point in their
conversation and they acknowledged his presence;
2) greeted them with a few pleasant words;
3) asked what they were discussing and appeared
interested in hearing about it (after all, he needs to
know about the sales figures, too);
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All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law.
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The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Emotional Intelligence
4) explained what he needed and then asked for Kelly’s
input on when and how she could comply with his
request for information from corporate;
5) exchanged pleasant conversation as he and Kelly
walked to his office to work on the request.
This could indeed have been a crisis, but when the manager or
the organization is always operating in crisis mode, there are
usually management problems. It’s probably safe to conclude
that Jack’s behavior in this situation is an example of low
Emotional Intelligence: A Definition
We are all familiar with the term intelligence quotient, or IQ, but
few managers in today’s workplaces understand much about
Emotional Intelligence — what is now being called “EQ.”
Managers know a great deal about the products or services that
their organizations deliver to customers, and they are
becoming more knowledgeable about the technology that puts
their organizations into the marketplace of ideas. When it
comes to issues involving individuals or groups, however,
many tend to fall short. Emotions and social skills don’t appear
to be as important to success in our jobs as facts and figures
Just what is Emotional Intelligence anyway? Often called EQ
(Emotional-Intelligence quotient), Emotional Intelligence refers
to the array of personal-management and social skills that
allows one to succeed in the workplace and life in general. EQ
encompasses intuition, character, integrity, and motivation. It
also includes good communication and relationship skills.
But emotions in the workplace? Surely we want to keep
emotions out of the organization! The business world, after all,
moves on facts and figures — or so we think. But new evidence
makes a pretty compelling case that poor emotional and social
skills derail more careers than lack of technical expertise or
even general intelligence — what we think of as IQ.
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Defining Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Interestingly, very little research has been done on the science
of emotions in the past. In the last decade or so, the scientific
and even business literature has been filled with new evidence
explaining the neurophysiology and biochemistry of emotions
and their roles in our professional and personal lives. Case
studies of leaders and other successful people have added
additional evidence to support the vital role of emotions in
decision-making, leadership, and success in life. New research
on the subject will teach us even more.
Think about your own experiences for a moment. Have you
ever had a very strong “gut reaction” to a certain person or
situation? Have you ever walked into a room and sensed that
something was wrong, or taken a chance on something you just
knew was the right thing, even though the “facts” said
otherwise? Perhaps you weren’t able to explain exactly why
you reacted the way you did, but the sensation was powerful.
This was the voice of your intuition — the gut feeling you had
stemming from past emotional experiences stored in your
brain. This “knowing” is inside us all, but many of us have
been trained to ignore it in favor of rationality and logic.
Balancing Emotional and Intellectual Intelligences
When managers think of emotions, they often focus on
overreactions that they have witnessed in the workplace —
conflict, hurt feelings, or even their own embarrassing
moments. Letting emotions overpower our intellect is not what
we mean by Emotional Intelligence; in fact, quite the opposite
is true: out-of-control emotions are not what we want, at work
On the other hand, listening only to our rational, factual side is
not Emotional Intelligence, either. Feelings, instincts, and
intuitions gained through experience are vital sources of
information about the world around us. We operate with only
half the information we need to make valid decisions when we
try to use only rational, cognitively derived data. This
approach does not lead to overall success within any
organization or to a satisfying personal life.
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