Tip #5 for Working Smarter
This month brings us to the final installment of my 5 Tips for Working Smarter series. I hope it has become clear that working smarter doesn’t necessarily mean working harder—rather, it means focusing our efforts to the greatest advantage. But as human beings, the vast majority of us have biases and blind spots about our own strengths and weaknesses. In reality, most of us are more productive and efficient when we base our improvement efforts on impartial, factual data. Moreover, the research now proves that leaders who build their emotional intelligence—the set of skills that influence our ability to cope with life’s various demands and pressures—are far more likely to be successful.
One of the most effective tools for providing objective feedback about a leader’s emotional intelligence and leadership performance is the EQ 360 assessment. The EQ 360 provides each participant with feedback about his/her strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for growth by collecting insights from various colleagues, ranging from peers and direct reports to supervisors and customers. The results are quite surprising, often revealing weaknesses the leader had never before recognized. The EQ 360 assessment is derived from the Emotional Quotient Inventory created by Israeli psychologist Reuven Bar-On, PhD. It is the most widely used and validated measure of an individual’s emotional intelligence.
Richard Handley, PhD, a clinical social worker and researcher known for his EQ leadership research with the U.S. Air Force, found that, in nature as in aerodynamics, there is always a price to pay for any design flaws that create a “drag” that slows us down. In business culture, that price is reduced efficiency and impaired performance. However, most leaders focus exclusively on building their strengths, without fully understanding how they can overuse certain strengths or be held back by not addressing weak areas.
For example, I worked with Rachel a president of a successful research firm, who was frustrated by her difficulty in influencing her staff. Rachel had high skills in interpersonal relationships, creativity, and impulse control. However, her influencing and problem solving skills were weakened by her inability to transparently express her emotions, have confrontational conversations, and address conflicts. Rachel was surprised to find that this area limited her, as she prided herself on containing her emotions and being appropriate and diplomatic.
In the past, Rachel had focused on educating her staff and building collegial relationships. However, when she asked them to respond to the EQ 360, she found that they were disappointed and confused because they couldn’t read her and were frustrated that she did not address team members who were disruptive or underperforming. In response, Rachel began giving honest feedback to each of her key people and sharing her thoughts in team meetings. The group felt relieved that they could now solve problems because they were being effectively addressed, and Rachel no longer had to spend so much time trying to put out fires.
As Rachel discovered, leaders must attend to whatever is a “drag” on their overall performance, as well as play to their strengths.
Do you know what your DRAG is?
Share what you have learned from EQ 360’s in the Comments section below.
To take an EQ 360, contact Elaine@elaine.divinus.us