For some years, I’ve been deeply intrigued by the role emotional intelligence (EQ) plays in determining the effectiveness of the leader, the team member and the overall team.

It can be defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically” and is absolutely key in developing strong relationships; whether personal or professional.

EQ is distinctly different from IQ and there is little evidence to suggest that the two are linked, in any way. Whilst clearly a level of IQ is important, it is argued that you reach a point where EQ becomes vastly more important to your ability to effectively contribute – and therefore, your success.

At an early stage in my own leadership journey, I realised I was missing something – but I wasn’t sure what – so I needed some help. I arranged to meet up with a friend who, after a highly successful career as a senior leader in higher education, had become an Executive Coach. He introduced me to the concept of emotional intelligence – I’d never heard of it before – but quickly became fascinated.

There are essentially four key components:

  • Self Awareness: understanding your own emotions and how they will be perceived – and importantly staying constantly aware of them;
  • Self Management: developing the ability to use the knowledge you gain though your self awareness to manage your emotions and to positively motivate yourself;
  • Social Awareness: understanding the emotions of others and being able to respond appropriately;
  • Relationship Management: developing the skills needed to build and maintain strong and authentic relationships with other people; and managing interactions in an appropriate way.

These components are underpinned by your resilience – and your ability to have an appropriate level of resilience, yet remain empathetic – and to proactively manage this.

After some time, lots of talking, reading, some formal training and a great degree of self observation; I started to become equipped with the tools necessary to logically and objectively understand the science behind my own behaviours. This was significant. With understanding comes the opportunity to control and develop your behaviours – whether that was attenuation, amplification or to change behaviours altogether. It was transformational.

I noticed rapid developments in my ability to understand myself better, to engage more positively with a wider range of people, to better understand the emotions and interactions of others, build stronger, more authentic relationships and improve the management of my resilience. I don’t think you ever stop your journey of enhancing your EQ – almost every day brings the opportunity to use one or more of the tools you learn to address one or more of the above key components.

My friend and mentor who helped me is involved in running an organisation called EI4Change. They’ve published a good video short and it’s worth a look.