Intelligence alone does not make a successful career. The balance of smarts and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE is a recipe for SUCCESS!
I unabashedly admit that I am not a member of Mensa (I feel like spelling Mensa wrong for fun). However, I consider myself to be a member of the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Society. Proudly. No, this ‘society’ does not exist.
We read a lot about EQ these days and the benefits associated with working with and for people with high Emotional Intelligence. Many hiring managers are focused on selecting employees that balance intelligence with the EQ factor. Why? Think about how many times you read or hear about situations where people are quitting their jobs over a terrible boss or an office that is always in chaos. Think about all the articles written about how to deal with a difficult boss or co-worker. This all boils down to emotional intelligence.
Working as a Career Coach and facilitator I hear horror stories from clients about previous bosses. Some have literally walked out on high-level, well-paying jobs due to frustration and stress working alongside a “horrible human being.”
It is stressful to be in a work environment that is fueled by chaos and bad behavior.
As the old saying goes, “People leave managers, not companies.” This is why it is so important to understand what emotional intelligence is and determine your strengths and gaps in this area. What traits do you portray in the work environment? How well do you read situations or work with others that may have different skill sets, personalities, or work styles?
How would you rank your EQ on a scale of 1-5, one being “SAD FACE” to 5 being “HAPPY FACE”?
- Self Control
- Social Skill
- Personal Influence
- Mastery of Vision
When someone exemplifies these qualities, they have the ability to work well with others, read situations for beneficial outcomes for all parties, lead teams, and people, and are able to lead change.
I learned very early on in my career that working well with others, along with the ability to read people and situations is a recipe for success. Before my senior year at Purdue University, I had a summer internship at a small public relations firm in New York City. I was offered $100/week and accepted it gladly for the experience.
Shortly after starting my new position I learned the other intern, who attended Columbia University, negotiated $300/week. While she may have had more money in her pocket at the end of the summer, that was all she had. While she filed all summer long, I received great PR experience and a job offer upon graduation the following year. Why? A big factor of my success boiled down to Emotional Intelligence and a strong work ethic!
I focused heavily on my interpersonal skills by listening to what was going on in the office, meeting needs when asked, and not asked. I read situations and people well in order to identify key issues and projects that needed the most help and was readily available to provide any assistance necessary for any task, big or small. I showed up daily with a can-do attitude looking to add support where needed using listening and communication skills, took initiative, stayed late when needed, and built positive working relationships with everyone in the office, well, except for the other intern. She was busy making long-distance calls to friends in Europe on the company dime; I kept my distance.
While the other intern performed menial tasks the entire summer, I quickly moved past filing and began working directly with the Vice President (reality check: it was a VERY small company so don’t be too impressed). I assisted her on two of her biggest accounts, Bride’s Magazine and Chantal Cookware, where I set up media interviews across the country using all media platforms, wrote press releases, and attended meetings at Conde Nast headquarters alongside the VP.
It was a phenomenal experience for me to be able to work in a small office and really be able to shine for the first time in a professional work environment. Looking back on that experience, and 20+ years of work experience, it is very clear to me that having a strong EQ has helped me succeed.
Five keys to success help create great leaders of people and happy employees across the board. Which do you have? Be honest with yourself.
Self-Awareness demands intimate and accurate knowledge of one’s self and one’s emotions. It also demands to understand and predicts one’s emotional reaction to situations.
The President of the company was somewhat hot-headed and reactive vs. proactive. I learned to listen carefully and remain calm during discussions (rants) while keeping a professional distance and learned to fill a need before he came in yelling.
Self-Control requires full mastery of being in control of one’s emotions. Both positive and negative emotions are channeled in the most productive manner when one controls the emotion versus the emotion controlling the person.
I found that when I stayed calm and kept my voice low while communicating with the President it helped keep any issue from exploding out of control.
Empathy requires the ability to understand how others perceive situations. This perception includes knowing how others feel about a particular set of events or circumstances. It requires knowing the perspective of others and being able to see things from the value and belief system of the other person. The ability to fully immerse oneself in another’s viewpoint. Empathy is both cognitive and emotional.
As I began to work closely with the Vice President I identified her stress with the President and became a bridge between them so that she could focus on her accounts without a high level of distraction from him which helped her be more successful in serving her clients. His issues were usually easy to rectify with clerical competencies.
Social Skill is the ability to build genuine relationships and bonds with others that are based on an assumption of human equality. It allows people to genuinely express feelings, even conflict, in a way that builds rather than destroys relationships. It demands that one reads social situations for readiness, appropriateness, and spoken and unspoken norms.
Each morning I would touch base with the Office Manager to find out how the President was feeling that day. That allowed me to plan my day effectively. She would either give me a thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s all I needed to know.
Personal Influence is the ability to inspire others through example, words, and deeds. It is the ability to lead others by way of social skills. One is able to read situations and exert influence and leadership in the desire direction. It is also the ability to confront the issues that are important or debilitating to relationships, goals, missions, or visions.
While I was not in a position to lead anyone, I certainly made decisions based on the mood of the office and the level of stress the VP expressed and worked from there. If I could offer additional help with the VP’s accounts, I would take on tasks I thought I could handle to free her up to focus on the bigger projects that needed her attention.
Mastery of Vision requires that the person has the ability to set direction and vision guided by a strong personal philosophy. The ability to communicate and articulate with passion regarding direction and vision are also essential. This talent serves as the inner compass that guides and influences one’s actions. It is the inner motivator and the guardian angel of our purpose. It is because of mastery of vision that we know who we are and what we are compelled to do with our lives. When our actions and words are consistent with this personal philosophy, it is our sense of authenticity. When inconsistent, it’s our sense of stress and discomfort (Lynn, A. B.).
My summer internship taught me great lessons about myself and my ability to not only succeed in a work environment but thrive. The ability to perform well was based on my ability to engage effectively with others and create strong working relationships through mutual respect. I truly feel that my emotional intelligence has allowed me to work successfully in a multitude of work environments over the years and three differing career paths.
- I invite you to share how you use your EQ to succeed in your career. What skills do you use to create strong working relationships and where do you fall short? I would love to share your stories in my workshop!
- I have found that many people recognize when they are lacking in EQ – please share your experience as well and how you have overcome and improved your EQ through practice.