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Good leadership is felt through high EQ

Many organisations still benchmark by intelligence quotient (IQ) rather than emotional quotient (EQ)

In changing social and economic climates leaders and managers should be resilient, adaptable and make tough decisions. During Brexit what abilities will our leaders need to ensure business survival as well as team motivation? A company is only as good as the people who work there; if they’re unhappy performance will suffer. Intellect alone does not solve this problem, but emotional intelligence will, however, tip the balance favourably.

Make it personal when making a professional choice

If emotional intelligence is a priority in your organisation then the interview process must be tailored accordingly. Generally, people with high EQ tend to be good listeners, digesting the questions before they offer up descriptive and emotive answers. They probably won’t shy away from self-examination or tough questions. They tend to talk about how they feel about certain difficult professional experiences as well as offering intellectual summations.

Discovering this depends on the ability of the interviewer to put the candidate at ease; and learn how the candidates respond to stressful situations, manage challenges and interact with different personalities.

Helpful interview questions might include:

  • What are their values?
  • What or who inspires them?
  • Do they build lasting professional friendships?
  • Ask them to explain how they would adapt their team’s performance in the face of sudden organisational change.
  • How do they deal with criticism?

Culture and fit are also among the most crucial considerations when making senior appointments. If the match between candidate and organisation isn’t right then professional relationships are likely to fail regardless of intellectual capacities on either side.

Effective leadership often also relies on the prospective candidate being authentic, with a transparent leadership style to foster a culture of trust between leaders and employees. However, the self-awareness to understand how they affect others (whether employees or clients) can have a direct bearing on successful decision-making and progress.

The advantages of having leaders with strong EQ

I’ve found EQ to be a highly-valued priority when conducting a search assignment for clients. The ability to read people beyond the obvious enables lasting professional relationship-building because fundamentally people buy into personality, trust and loyalty, as well as quality.

From our client feedback, people with high EQ can see both the objective and subjective view; they can sympathise, empathise, and see hidden qualities in others.

They can show that they are invested in the wellbeing of others, and garner support through their successful interaction. Solving people issues is probably what they do best. Having command of their own emotions and self-awareness gives them the ability to listen to both sides of an argument dispassionately. Through their objectivity they can resolve conflicts with a satisfactory outcome.

Being able to approach a tense situation with empathy, and enabling compromise rather than further provocation, spares unnecessary tension and resentment between team members. Regarding day-to-day soft management skills: don’t underestimate the power of having a healthy sense of humour as it can break tension and make leaders more approachable.

People with high EQ tend to learn from their mistakes without dwelling on them. Failures are viewed as an opportunity for development because they are comfortable with themselves as well as others – mistakes are not a stumbling block but a step up.

A different kind of smart

For those companies who have yet to prioritise EQ a re-evaluation may be in order. Academic qualifications and professional certifications satisfy only a part of the leader’s role in any organisation. Hiring a person with high EQ can affect a company’s growth and/or changes in direction and adaptability. Their curiosity about human interaction can build strong professional relationships and foster return business.

Maybe it’s time to get up close and personal about our professional relationships because we’re bonding with people, not automatons, which can make or break a business.

Lorraine Thomas is MD of Metzger Search & Selection