In this blog we are looking at what seems to be a missing link to success for those aspiring or already managing people and leading teams - EQ.
This month's blog is written by Vitalija Tiskute, one of the Client Development Centre team who has experience working as part of a legal team both in-house and in private practice. Here, in the first of two blogs, Vitalija talks about the skills she feels are vital for success as a lawyer.
I knew early on I had a good IQ, and so I felt set for success. I was attracted to law because I wanted to put my IQ to good use and (if I'm really honest) I loved the glamour of TV legal dramas (I blame Ally McBeal).
The further I progressed in my career, the less it actually looked like an Ally McBeal movie. As work became more complex, I ran into challenges that had nothing to do with legal knowledge and could not be solved by a high IQ, and I was constantly caught up in conflicting interests. I struggled to get my point across without damaging my relationships. I was in teams that didn't get along and suffered from broken communication with clients and colleagues. Worst of all was how these external factors impacted my inner state, I felt like I was in a constant 'fight-or-flight' state, feeling like stress and people issues overshadowed the actual work.
I made the decision to stop practicing law and joined the Client Development Centre team. The new role opened my eyes to a world beyond IQ and led me to discover Emotional Intelligence (EI, also known as EQ – Emotional Quotient). The concept was introduced to business schools around the world thanks to Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence theory. I felt like I found a missing piece of the puzzle.
In this, the first of two blogs on Emotional Intelligence, I want to introduce the concept to you, and share some insights on how EQ can enhance your career.
What EQ is not
Firstly, I want to discuss a few myths that I'd believed about EQ. I never associated the term EQ with great leadership and management. I thought "soft skills" stifled ambition and progress. I believed demonstrating EQ meant that you should suppress your emotions and avoid challenge or conflict. I was convinced EQ was for people who were overly emotional and sensitive – qualities I associated with a lack of ambition and avoiding confrontation. I certainly never thought that EQ could actually help me achieve my goals and improve my relationships.
It's only after reading more in-depth articles by Daniel Goleman, Justin Bariso and Dr. Travis Bradberry, I realised I was not even close to understanding the concept and potential of EQ.
What is EQ?
So what is this mysterious and valuable EQ?
Though definitions vary, one of the simplest is that EQ is "the ability to identify different emotions, to understand their effect, and to use that information to guide thinking and behavior".
Daniel Goleman describes four elements of EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. These include qualities like empathy, positive outlook, and self-control, but also crucial abilities I didn't associate with EQ - such as achievement, influence, conflict management, teamwork and inspirational leadership. These skills require just as much skilful use of emotion as the first set, and should be a focus of any aspiring manager's or leader’s development priorities.
One of the biggest blocks I've seen preventing teams from operating at their highest level was being able to surface any issues in a constructive way. I also saw the impact on individuals when difficult feedback wasn't delivered in a way that allowed them to move forwards. Mastering EQ can help you do this and more.
Why EQ makes a difference
Just like I was, lawyers are praised for their IQ and legal knowledge but (as I appreciate now) those who aspire to manage, or are already managing people, need much more. Research into the Fortune 500 CEOs shows that "the dominant trait in effective leadership comes from EI (also called EQ), not IQ or the level of one’s experience or depth of their resume."
I quickly came to realise that EQ gives you a better understanding of yourself and others. It gives you the skills to deal with emotional situations in a way that you won't regret later. It takes you out of a state of 'fight-or-flight'. You don't react on impulse, instead, you can control your response, attitude and behaviour. Your relationships with colleagues and clients improve, communication flows easily (even during times of high pressure) and you demonstrate leadership skills that mean the best people want to work with you. I know this understanding would have enabled me to be an even more effective legal adviser.
If you want to know more, and improve your EQ, then watch out for my second blog where I'll describe how to find out your EQ score and share tips how to improve it. In the meantime, I would highly recommend Daniel Goleman's HBR article "Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On?" for an in-depth overview of his theory.