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The Impact of Emotional Intelligence

The Impact of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is The Game-Changer

 

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AT WORK: Emotional intelligence (or, “EI” for short) drives your success at work. On a personal level, your career aspirations can stall or get entirely off track without emotional intelligence. However, emotional intelligence impacts entire organizations too. Without leaders who have high levels of emotional intelligence, organizations are negatively impacted through strained employee and customer relationships, higher turnover rates, and often lower bottom line results.

One Leader’s Journey to Emotional Intelligence

As a career coach and leadership coach, I have a front row seat to observe just how impactful the presence or absence of emotional intelligence can be. I know from my work with individual leaders as well as organizations and management teams, that having even just one leader committed to improving their levels of emotional intelligence will affect your entire group. 

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Here’s a real-world example of how to develop emotional intelligence.

I once had a leadership coaching client I’ll call Jim, who was in a leadership position at a large, successful tech organization. Showing toughness and determination were obvious strengths for this leader and had played a huge part in his advancing to high levels in the tech industry.

But, after a certain level, what Jim knew how to do — being firm and direct, hardheaded and focused on results — wasn’t working out for him anymore. It was easy to see that this 46-year-old leader had stopped moving forward and was stalled out in their current mid-management job, unhappy, and constantly wondering why the VP position wasn’t offered.

Even though Jim was working as hard as ever and driving his team towards even greater goals, there had been no mention of moving into levels of higher responsibility since joining the company 3 years ago. Jim was genuinely mystified: Couldn’t everyone see his advanced tech skills, his grinding work ethic, his name brand school, and impressive resume?

“Company sales were up, my team likes me, I make sure we do a happy hour every week— so why no promotions?” this executive questioned.  “And it was all but stated in my interviews that with hard work, meeting quotas and building a strong sales team, a promotion to VP was an opportunity that would be there.”

As if the frustration and disappointment that was mounting at work weren’t enough, Jim’s relationships at home with his wife and kids were unhappy. His wife suggested they try couples counseling. (Jim felt this was entirely unnecessary…. at first).  

Emotional Intelligence is Often a Blind Spot For Leaders

What was creating so many problems for Jim was that he had zero awareness around how other people were feeling in their interactions with him. This was true for his co-workers, reports, leadership, and his wife and kids too.

Yes, Jim had a lot of impressive tech knowledge, skills, and fun personality (in a back-slapping kind of way) but these positives were overshadowed by his inability to be aware of and manage strong emotions or show empathy to those on the team. He had always viewed his fist pounding, demands, and tendency to talk over peers and customers instead of listening as “his style.”  He did not understand that his way of relating to other people was getting in the way of forming collaborative relationships, goodwill, and cooperation — both at work, and at home. 

Emotional Intelligence Coaching: The Lightbulb Goes Off

The organization had also reached its limits with this leader and suggested that emotional intelligence (EI) coaching and leadership coaching would be beneficial.  Not particularly a happy camper during our first meeting, this changed over time and good things started happening!

Before getting involved in Emotional Intelligence coaching, Jim, like many, genuinely believed that his outgoing personality, and drive for success,  paired with a strong set of software development skills and experience should be enough to advance his career. However, Jim was also a smart guy, and he was open to trying something different when he could see for himself that his usual way of doing things wasn’t working out. [For more on this, check out “How to Get Ahead at Work“]

The first step of our emotional intelligence coaching work consisted of  360 emotional intelligence survey assessment called the ESCI, which would help us to understand the impact Jim was having on those around him. As part of my assessment process, I interviewed Jim’s current manager and had his sales team, peers, and several customers all complete an online survey providing invaluable (anonymous) feedback.

In the first meeting to review survey results, a lightbulb went on for this leader.  Though it was tough to hear that the ambition, drive, and force that were self-described strengths could also be viewed as limitations, it was obvious that this leader’s behaviors were getting in the way of a high-level promotion and success at work. It wasn’t the ambition and drive that was negative; it was the expression of those (impatience, yelling, over-focus on output at the expense of people) that was a problem. However, with Jim’s newfound self-awareness he could now understand them as the career-limiting behaviors that they were and change could begin.

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Learned

Through coaching and determined practice, this manager improved key leadership skills. One skill area that was notably low on the assessment (and a total “blind spot”) was mentoring and coaching employees. What a great change on the sales team when they began to see their leader had more interest in how they could each grow at work and made sure they got what they needed to be successful. Jim’s sincere interest in how people were doing (and the ability to listen and understand) went much further towards building moral and positive relationships than his happy hour.

Most importantly, Jim learned that leaders need to manage conflict effectively.  This manager’s emotional intelligence survey results were clear: a better way to handle inevitable work conflicts needed to happen, especially with the sales team and customers. (Interestingly, survey outcomes showed this leader managed conflicts more effectively with peers and with his own manager.) Being more self-aware meant better self-management, which meant no more fist-pounding or loud-voiced demands, which meant far better workplace relationships. Instead, Jim learned to recognize and manage his own feelings, and show (and feel) empathy and consideration for the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.

It took a lot of practice to change old habits and stitch together change, but Jim was able to put his core strengths of intelligence, determination, and hard work to great use. He was successful.

The Benefit of Emotional Intelligence Coaching

As is my process in emotional intelligence coaching and leadership coaching, I checked back in with Jim and his company. According to the organization some months later, company-wide positive changes had been experienced because of Jim’s turnaround. Customers were more satisfied (at least in part) as a result of this one leader’s understanding of their impact in the workplace. Key employees were more productive. They’d reduced turnover. Leadership was happy.

Jim was happy too. Because of his long-standing ability to be resilient and manage change, he was able to drive his career to the next level. He got that promotion. But perhaps even more importantly, he’d also strengthened relationships with his wife and family. Jim’s new understanding of the importance of emotions, how to be more sensitive to the feelings of others, ability to listen, and to communicate more respectfully touched every area of his life in a very positive way. 

Jim can do it, and you can too! I hope this story inspires you to develop emotional intelligence in yourself. It’s worth it.

Sincerely,

Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT, Certified EI Coach

 

HEALTHY PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS | Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT is a relationship expert and certified emotional intelligence coachwith years of experience as a marriage counselor, executive coach, and leadership coach. She’s here to help you cultivate positive relationships in every area of your life. Learn more about Linda…

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Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT is a Denver marriage counselor, career coach, and executive coach at Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She specializes in emotional intelligence coaching, and is skilled and experienced in working with individuals and couples dealing with the challenges of managing work and family life.  She sees clients in our Denver and Broomfield Colorado office locations, as well as online.

 

 

Don’t Let Job Stress Ruin Your Relationship

“My Husband’s Job is Ruining Our Relationship!”

Having a tyrant for a boss is a nightmare for anyone and bad news for a spouse as well.  Every night when my career coaching client “Matthew” came home from work his wife “Jennie” dreaded their exchanges.  What used to be a fun and light-hearted time became non-stop complaints, threats of quitting the job or worse yet, an excuse to drink as a way of coping with the stress.

For months Jennie listened. Then she began to offer advice including, “Why don’t you just quit if you’re so miserable?” Or, “You should schedule a meeting with your boss and tell him what you think.”  This advice wasn’t helpful, and often Matthew became annoyed or defensive in response. They started fighting about it. Both Jennie and Matthew started to believe that Matthew’s job was ruining their relationship, but they didn’t know how to stop his job stress from negatively impacting their life.

Over time more arguments happened, Matthew’s drinking increased and the mood at home shifted from being negative and irritable for Matthew to negative and irritable for Jennie and the entire family.  This is called emotional contagion and it sneaks up on you.

Job Stress = Emotional Contagion

Did you know that emotions are contagious? Yes, both good emotions and not such good ones affect those around you. So when your spouse comes home every night with a load of complaints and negativity, this will affect you along with everyone else in the household. If you’re looking for one culprit to keep a job from ruining your relationship, this is the one to focus on.

5 Tips to Keep Your Job From Ruining Your Relationship

  • Be aware of emotional contagion and make it a priority to shift your mood when you’re off duty
  • Consider ways to create more effective boundaries around work and personal life.  
  • Take time to decompress from work–changing from work issues to home is often a deliberate process.
  • If your partner frequently brings home work frustrations and stress, try detaching your emotions from your partners.  This doesn’t mean you don’t care about your partner’s challenges but instead are keeping the emotional contagion out of your relationship.  
  • Suggest putting time limits on “work” talk at home.

 

The good news:  Positive emotions are contagious as well!  Think back on the feelings that you may have shared at the end of a run or walk you’ve done for charity or a football game where you’ve been on your feet with hundreds of other fans cheering that winning touchdown. The positive shared experience is truly contagious. Your brain would like more of this, thank you.

Thankfully, things turned around for Matthew and Jennie. Matthew and I engaged in career coaching as he seriously considered his career options, and whether he should quit his job. He decided not to. Instead, our work shifted to executive coaching (particularly around emotional intelligence coaching) and Matthew learned how to manage his mood. He made some important changes to his job, specifically around setting boundaries, learning how to delegate, incorporating some new personal productivity strategies, and learning how to say no.

Furthermore, he began deliberately focusing on how to be a more positive partner for his wife. Relationships that feel good, are a place for fun, adventure, support and trust are more likely to stay strong during times of stress and tough challenges. He learned that by intentionally boosting the positive interactions you have between you and your partner, you can protect your relationship from the times you’re feeling off. So even though not every day was perfect, Jennie was much more patient and compassionate with Matthew during his stressful times.

I hope that my sharing this story helps you incorporate some positive changes to your work / life balance as well. If negative moods follow you home from work and you would like help sorting out a better approach before they become harmful to your relationship or family, it may be helpful to talk with an experienced career coach / life coach or therapist — particularly one who is well versed in emotional intelligence coaching. You can learn how to make positive changes at your job, manage stress more effectively, and even set some boundaries around your time and mental energy.

 

 

Leadership Coaching: How to Raise Your Emotional Intelligence

Leadership Coaching: How to Raise Your Emotional Intelligence

Lead From Where You Are… And Remember to Take Your Emotional Intelligence With You

What I’ve learned from my years of experience as an executive coach and leadership coach, is that leaders working around boardroom tables, in classrooms, in surgical operating rooms and on basketball courts all need high levels of emotional intelligence (EI) to be effective. In fact, emotional intelligence is the foundation for leadership excellence and is an essential skill for leaders at all levels, in any workplace, who seek to create a positive, high-performance work climate.

What Does Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Look Like?

Those leaders with strong Emotional Intelligence are described by their employees, colleagues, clients, and customers as people who understand and manage their own emotions (and the emotions of others) well, show empathy, adjust effectively to ongoing workplace change and work with the flexibility and confidence needed for dealing with inevitable workplace conflicts.  Picture this skilled leader also being highly effective in both leading and participating on workplace teams where interpersonal relationships often make or break outcomes.  This is a leader with the competencies of emotional intelligence and one destined to be considered a star performer in any workplace.

Use Self-Awareness to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence:

Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Working With Emotional Intelligence, has researched and published on EI for decades.  He reminds us that “we are being judged by a different yardstick in the workplace today” and that the skills of EI are more important than ever. Yes IQ is important, it often gets you in the door for an interview, along with your academic credentials, but your success in the workplace will be most defined by your ability to work with emotional intelligence.  

Like anything else, the key to developing your emotional intelligence is by cultivating self-awareness. Through an Emotional Intelligence (EI) assessment to understand your current levels of Emotional Intelligence, and strategic coaching sessions aimed at specific Emotional Intelligence competency areas, your EI skill levels (unlike IQ), can be improved. Goleman, and Harvard colleague, Richard Boyatzis, have developed a validated measure to help individual leaders and leadership teams to understand their current competencies of EI. The Emotional Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) to date has been utilized in over 2,500 organizations and is published in 15 languages, helping organizations around the world to build the skills of emotional intelligence and create more effective leaders. We offer this assessment to our leadership coaching and executive coaching clients at Growing Self, as well.

Three Tips To Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

What are your levels of Emotional Intelligence at work?  Do they need to be improved?  Here are 3 ways to begin improving your EI right now.

Reflect.  Take the time to consider your own emotions at work.  What do you experience when co-workers disagree with you?  When an unpleasant email comes your way?  When your boss does not seem to value your work?

Engage.  Being interested in those you work with shows empathy.  Ask how your fellow team members are doing with their projects and listen to their answers.  Follow-up.

Gain perspective.  Ask those you work with for feedback on how you manage setbacks, change and conflict.  Be open to their comments and practice more effective approaches if needed.

With ESCI Coaching certifications from Korn Ferry-Hay Group (Boston, MA) and a decade of experience in delivering ESCI assessments and coaching for both individuals and leadership teams, Growing Self coaches Linda Pounds, M.A, ESCI Certified Coach and Meagan Terry, M.A., ESCI Certified Coach welcome you to schedule a free consultation to learn more about building your Emotional Intelligence skills.

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