Are you one of these people who sometimes receive feedback about being too much to the point or too quick to make decisions? Are you known as somebody who delivers results and solves problems, but you also feel that you are not pleasant or indulgent for some? Against all your success stories, were you blamed for not listening or showing empathy for the people around you?
It hasn’t been long since EQ (or EI) was declared one of the most critical aspects of leadership. There are even statistical comparisons like leaders with higher EQ deliver around 20% over those with high IQ. However, my question here is, is that really so?
It is evident that a person with higher EQ communicates easily, solves interpersonal conflicts swiftly, is more likable, adaptable, calm and, in the end, happy. They can work in team environments effortlessly, ask for help or provide support without hustle, and act skillfully under stress too. So what else may a leader and their teammates need?
Sympathy is a leadership curse.
I know a newly appointed team leader in a direct sales organization. She was the most emphatic, easygoing and lovable person in the group and was chosen by the assessors as the new team leader. She immediately established good relations with her peers and subordinates. The meetings were pleasant communication opportunities, always ending with huddles. Top management was happy with their decision and expected superb results in the near future. Instead, after a short rise, they saw declining results. She wasn’t delegating at all, always postponing negative or constructive feedback, had issues saying “no” to the requests, and kept overloading herself and the team with unnecessary tasks.
We sometimes mix empathy with sympathy. Being a lovable and easygoing person is often associated with high empathy. However, we should understand others’ viewpoints, relate to similar emotions or situations within ourselves, and communicate accordingly without diverting from the perspective. Turning it to sympathy may cause us to postpone some important decisions and actions or let the other person manipulate our hesitation.
Thinking out of the box
Do you have creative and successful people around you? If not, look among the artists and CEOs. You will find not all but many nonconformist people without higher levels of EQ. Sometimes we like, and sometimes we hate their whimsical attitudes. We blame them for all the caprice they demonstrate and occasionally judge them for their harsh behaviour towards the people around them.
However, aren’t these impulsive moods with highs and lows giving them the ability to think out of the box, break the rules, and thus create new pieces of art or products. We can see these people leading successful companies, from small ventures to global giants. If not administered well, the two domains within EQ, social awareness and self-management, may cause us to obey the rules and patterns of the environment; consequently, we may stop challenging them.
Comfort zone trap
John F. Kennedy said that “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” as it will be too late when the rain starts. When I look around, even at my past, we, human beings, tend to think to change things after the storm hits. We consider starting a better diet or regular exercise after our doctor delivers the shady blood test results. Higher EQ people are so good at dealing with the situation and all the stress related to it that they continue to do what they excel at, hence why to take the risk when there is no imminent threat. There is a very well-tailored solution running smoothly, and there is no need to find other ways to do things. Changing those well-designed, well-performing solutions and processes may and probably will receive unhappy considerations and negative feedback from all concerned parties. So let’s keep the things as they are, perfect and easy as Bertram Lance said, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Changeability is also related to our capacity to take risks. High EQ people are known to be conscientious, resulting in risk avoidance. They may concentrate on excelling in the existing solutions to solve new challenges instead of finding new ones and taking necessary risks.
However, leaders have to make unpopular decisions and take risks when necessary. If leaders are more focused on getting along with people than making unpopular decisions to deliver results, they are destined to fail. Even when everything seems perfect, leaders should oversee the opportunities or threats and take necessary actions against all the risks by initiating change.
If you are asking about the solution, as a long-time leader and a leadership lecturer, I advise perfecting the art of balance. Understanding and practising high levels of EQ is definitely a leadership virtue where visionary leadership and delivering the results are also of critical importance. A thoughtful human touch and an emphatical approach are nothing shy of doing the right things to deliver better results.
May the EQ be with you.