You may have all the knowledge in the world, and your IQ might be through the roof, but unless you develop ways to navigate people and various personalities, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
There are no guarantees, but one of the most significant indicators of how successful you will be is the level of your emotional intelligence. Being able to navigate the room in an emotionally intelligent way, is one of the keys to success. A few years ago, Daniel Goleman published a blog on this idea – I encourage to read it. He points out that the abilities that set stars apart from the rest of the group are: self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social effectiveness.
Let’s break these down…
First, Self-awareness. To have an effective EQ, you must learn to have a strong understanding of yourself and regularly assess your skill sets. Take a full account of how these have changed and developed over a period of time. Don’t be shocked when you realize you are not the same person you were a year ago. Your skill sets will change, and new ones will emerge as you deal with new circumstances, problems and ideas. Here’s a tool that you can use to assess yourself. Every week, month, and year look at what you’ve accomplished, where you’ve been, who you’ve met and what challenges you overcame – then write a paper on it. This is how I do it, and it has been a great life tool for me over the years.
Second, Self-management. Here’s the funny thing about self-management, you may already think that you’re doing a good job, but the reality is you probably don’t see the full picture. The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to observe our behavior without bias. I always wonder what other people are thinking as I’m interacting with them on a team or project. Am I dominant? Can I lead? Do people trust me? Am I communicating clearly? All these questions and more are great to ask from people who you do life with and who you work with. These answers will help you manage yourself as you grow and develop as a leader.
Third, Empathy. Here’s the deal with empathy, it’s not a pity party for the other person. It’s not about jumping in the, “I feel sorry for myself” crowd. No, empathy is about understanding what others are going through so that you can help them grow out of it. So learn to become empathetic towards others and their situations.
Fourth, Social Effectiveness. All these previous abilities are what build your effectiveness in social situations. If you assess yourself, manage yourself and demonstrate a high degree of empathy – you will be empowered in social circumstances. One more thing that needs to be added to your social effectiveness measurement, is your ability gauge the emotional temperature of a room or a conversation. By doing that you can understand what the situation needs. Once you gauge where people at an emotional level, you’ll have a better understanding of what needs to happen in the moment. This is also how effective leaders can contextualize their leadership for specific instances, and become the leader that the moment requires.
So don’t just rely on your IQ, it’s one thing to know everything and another to apply it in an emotionally savvy way.