The Power of Emotional Intelligence

In my career as a leadership coach the last 26 years, I have learned that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is more important than IQ in determining leadership performance.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others, in order to guide your thinking and behavior. It’s been especially used to define the skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance. The latest research, and my own experience, demonstrates that EQ accounts for 70% of leadership performance. Traditional skills and knowledge, such as business expertise, technical expertise, and IQ, account for only 30% of leadership performance.

Since leadership is not a position or title, and is a choice that can be made by anyone in any walk of life, EQ has become a universal topic, both within and outside of business.

A good way to think about EQ is to see it as a commitment to relationship with others. EQ is about the heart, while IQ is about the head. Thus, the best definition of leadership I know is this: great leadership is a dual commitment to both results (the IQ side) and relationships (the EQ side), never compromising one for the other.

In other words, great leaders have effective behaviors in both the IQ and EQ sides of leadership:

IQ Behaviors

Use Skills/Knowledge

  • Life/business/technical skills
  • Specific required expertise
  • Mission, vision, strategy development and implementation

Implement the Discipline of Action

  • Hold each other accountable
  • Make precise requests and promises

Handle Breakdowns Well

  • Problems, setbacks, mistakes are a part of life
  • Handle them well, learn from them and bounce back

EQ Behaviors

Have Care and Concern for Others

  • Say “thank you”
  • Listen more, talk less
  • Kind tone of voice, upbeat attitude, smile, positive body language
  • Be non-judgmental, give people a chance
  • Be willing to help others
  • Practice Alignment

Be Self Aware/ Transparent

  • Apologize when you make a mistake
  • Routinely ask for and give feedback

Express Appreciation to Others

  • Don’t just think it, say it

All of us have personal stories when we did the above EQ behaviors well and when we didn’t. It is important to point out that the access to EQ behaviors is application of The 100/0 Principle—taking 100% responsibility for our relationships.

There are common human emotional barriers to achieving EQ, such as pride, fear, anger, snap judgments, etc. The key is awareness (of the barrier when it occurs) and choice of EQ actions (one or more of the EQ actions shown above) to overcome the barrier. As you train your brain by repeatedly practicing new EQ behaviors, your brain builds the pathways needed to make them into habits. Before long, you begin to respond to your surroundings with EQ without even having to think about it.

The benefits of EQ are great. It’s the difference between existing and truly living. Existing is our involuntary, automatic, knee jerk reactions to life’s events. Truly living is the exercise of certain learned skills (shown above). It’s behaving productively—you become happier and more successful in all domains of life.

If you would like to have a complimentary discussion with me on how Emotional Intelligence might apply to you or your team, please call or email me: 630-673-4254 or