Emotions — we all have lots of them. From fear to euphoria, embarrassment to excitement, and at least 60 others in-between. Emotions affect our physiology and visa-a-versa. They drive how we think and feel, which then affects our behavior. A family member once justified an anger outburst because “he was only human.” But it’s because we are human that we have the intellectual control over emotions.
I’ve got a couple of long-time friends who, irrespective of what happens to them, remain remarkably even-keeled. The swing of their emotional state is relatively narrow, but always on the positive side. In fact, I’ve never seen them blow their lids, breakdown, or create any kind of drama. Then there are those who ride emotional roller-coasters, their moods varying with the force of the currents.
Several years ago I worked with a colleague who screamed at people when things didn’t go his way. He liked to instill fear, but in fact people and businesses tended to run the other way. He had the emotional intellect of a teenager even though he was very talented in other aspects of business.
Many claim that Emotional Intelligence (EI) matters more in the workforce than does IQ. Top business schools have come to recognize the importance of EI and look for character qualities like interpersonal and communication skills in those who apply. For example, how do perspective students measure up with traits such as cooperation, empathy, rapport and perspective?
I recently read a book called How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough. In it he presents a compelling case how qualities such as “perseverance, curiosity, optimism, conscientiousness, and self-control” are malleable areas where, if focused on, can help more children succeed who otherwise might not. In a nutshell, he is talking about developing EI.
Daniel Coleman wrote Working with Emotional Intelligence as a self-help business book. In it, he discusses and breaks down why a high EI matters more to businesses and governments than does simply having a high IQ. All the smartness of a high IQ, especially in delicate situations, can be derailed by a deficiency of EI.
The good news is that EI can be a continued learning process, says Dr. Alan Watkins, who wrote a book called Coherence, The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership. He says we take a step forward when we start taking ownership of our emotions. Most people, he says, believe that others “do something to make them feel a certain way.” For example, “you made me feel angry.” He says this “victim position of blaming someone else seems like it gets you off the hook,” but instead the opposite happens. If you blame someone else, “then only they can make it better.” We climb up the EI ladder when we consciously take ownership of own emotions. “If I’m feeling angry, I created the chemistry of anger, and I can uncreate it.” The same with any other emotion. He was pointing to the fact that more emotional control changes our behavior, which in turn affects the results we are after.
Two weeks before DOM died, she sent me a book called The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz. Having been the CEO of a couple of public companies, Mr. Horowitz lays out why it takes more EI than IQ to be a great CEO.
We are all humans, not robots, and emotions make life rich. It’s the development of them that helps create the depth of that richness.
Right about now I’m getting tied in knots thinking about all the emotions I’ve got to develop. I’d better get to work.
Where is your EI level?