Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Success in Leadership Roles

Bailey - Key to Success in Leadership Roles

We all know what IQ (Intelligence Quotient) means. It’s a simple metric that compares you with a set of norms to see how smart you are. However, research from Travis Bradberry at Forbes Magazine has revealed that having a higher EQ trumps a higher IQ when it comes to career success.

So what is EQ and why is a fitness guy writing about it?

What is EQ and why is it important?

Award winning authors Dr. Travis Bradberry and Dr. Jean Groves collaborated in creating a book called “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” and describe EQ as:

“Your ability to recognize and understand emotions, and your skill at using this awareness to manage yourself and your relationships”.

A study revealed that 90% of top job performers were found to have higher levels of emotional intelligence, while only 20% of bottom performers had a high EQ. The interesting part of all this, is that the study actually found a correlation between higher EQ and income. On a scale, for every 1 point of EQ, led to an increase average of $1300 (USD) of income per annum. Those who were considered to have ‘high EQ’ earned, on average, $29,000 (USD) more than those considered to have ‘low EQ’.

The science behind EQ

Throughout the day we’ll run through a series of emotions due to all different kinds of stimuli. All stimuli enters at the base of the brain. While reading this article, your eyes do their thing by sending the message to the base of the brain, and then into the limbic system which creates ‘emotion’. The emotion is then passed to the rational brain at the front of the skull which helps us deal with that emotion. In its simplest form, it is the relationship between the limbic system and the rational brain that allows us to control how we deal with any given situation.

So how can we improve our EQ?

1. Sort out your stress

Sometimes stress can be good for us. For example when we experience intermittent, manageable bouts of stress it’s a bit like going to gym. We become mentally stronger for going through the pressure, and in some cases our short term memory can be improved. Conversely when the stress is overwhelming a hormone called cortisol is produced which can cause a myriad of health problems like:

  • Heart problems
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Gaining mass
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced ability to concentrate or remember
  • Depression

There are few good methods when it comes to reducing stress levels. My favourite (obviously) is to get moving and do some exercise. I’m not telling you to run a marathon or anything like that, but find something you really enjoy that keeps you coming back. I’ve written about the benefits of dancing for exercise, so this is a great way to combat stress and have fun at the same time.

A gratitude diary, though it might sound a bit too silly for some, has been shown to reduce stress across multiple studies. However, if you are going to take the time to write down what it is you’re grateful for, it’s important to dedicate enough time to do it properly. Find a quiet place with the aim of going into depth in just a few areas, rather than creating a really long list without really giving them much thought.

2. Clean up your sleeping patterns

When you’re awake, toxic proteins build up in the neurons in your brain. Don’t worry, it is a totally natural thing and when you get the right amount of sleep, these neurons clean themselves up and flush out their own toxins. When these toxins don’t get flushed out this is when we feel rubbish and our motivation deteriorates. We get short tempered and can’t be bothered hitting the gym, instead, we’re more likely to end up binging on Netflix while smashing a Ben and Jerry’s tub.

In order to get a better night’s sleep, keep your bedroom tidy (mess equals stress) and try going to bed earlier. Don’t forget to ditch the late night screens (phone, tablet, TV) right before bed!

3. Manage your caffeine intake

I’ve recently come back from a training camp in Thailand where I was exercising for 3 hours in the morning, and 4 hours in the evening, every day (apart from Sundays), for 3 weeks. It was caffeine that got me through. The problem for me, was that when I got back to the “real world”, I didn’t decrease my coffee intake. I’m in the midst of a caffeine reduction right now as I was close to being on the receiving end of an intervention!

Though there are some really good reasons to have a coffee every day, too much mucks up my previous 2 points. It can increase stress, anxiety and ruin sleep patterns. Try having tea as a replacement (every now and then at least), the benefits will amaze you.

Differentiating between EQ, IQ and personality

It’s important to draw a line between EQ, IQ and personality. Our IQ, though we can continue to get smarter, will generally stick to a certain point in our mid 30’s. Personality is also somewhat fixed with our values and character traits being instilled early.

As you would know, it is very rare that an introvert suddenly becomes the outgoing life of the party at the age of 42! IQ and personality are what neurologists refer to as fluid intelligence because it’s independent of learning and decreases with age. Whereas EQ is referred to as crystallized intelligence as it’s pliable and can increase with age.

EQ, in its simplest form can be broken into two categories:

  • Personal competence: This is about how we manage our own feelings and emotions
  • Social Competence: How you read other people and what you do with information.

It’s the trickle-down effect that working on your EQ has in everyday life. On a personal front it affects how you respond to Mary calling in sick, how you respond after receiving negative feedback, and how you cope with the internet going down just hours before your big presentation. In a social setting, it gives you valuable insight, such as being able to pick up on subtle cues that one of your staff members might be going through a tough time.

You can then use that intuition to support them as best you can, rather than just be getting angry that their standard of work is declining. In a nutshell you will be promoted in your job based on two things; getting great results and being good with people.

How I’ve used EQ as a local business owner

At Bailey Fitness we have a little over 100 staff and contractors throughout the business. I don’t profess to be the best leader in the world, and I’m not about to write an airport bookshop best-seller with a title that reads something like: “Top Ten Habits for Leadership Success” or “7 Ways to Win at Work”. Although, looking back over the last 8 years of running the company, it’s been my reaction when the proverbial shit hit the fan, that has dictated my success.

To put this in perspective for you, cast your mind back to an old boss that you really loved working for. They probably had empathy, they might have valued your efforts, and you had a close enough relationship to let them know your thoughts or share things happening in your personal life that might be affecting your work. On the other hand, we’ve most likely had a boss that was quick to yell, may have been overly emotional, and didn’t deal with stress well on a daily basis.

From the professionals

Now looking at one of those Airport self-help books which is definitely worth a read, is John C. Maxwells ‘5 Levels of Leadership’.

Level 1: Position

Employees are only encouraged by a ‘position’ leader because of the badge they hold or title within an organisation. This type of boss doesn’t stimulate any motivation to do work above their job description. They treat workers like subordinates and not as part of the team. It’s all about rules, regulation, policies and procedures.

Level 2: Permission

‘Permission’ is the first step to any real influence. This is the level where the leader is followed because they are liked by employees who want to follow them. I bet you can remember a boss who fit into this level. You felt like they genuinely cared about you. You felt valued. Normally these leaders have a great personality.

Level 3: Production

At this level we see both IQ and EQ in action. We have a leader who employees want to follow because of their personality, as well as their in depth knowledge and capabilities. They take the blame when it goes wrong and give out the praise when the team succeeds. In this level we see them leading from the front and setting the example for their team.

Level 4: People Development

The fundamental change in level 4 is that now only 20% of this leader’s time is focused on their own tasks and 80% of their time is focused on the growth of others. A high amount of EQ is required as this leader is aiming to get the most out of their team. They need to know what challenges their team members are facing on a daily basis.

Level 5: The Pinnacle

Reaching level 5 is very rare! This is where a great personality, high IQ and high EQ overlap. These leaders are more often in positions of great responsibility, and what most would perceive as having as high stress work. They are very good at managing their emotions, their team and are well respected. People who reach level 5 lead so well, that they create a legacy that lifts entire organisations.

Be the best leader you can be

So now you know why a fitness guy is writing about emotional intelligence. It can be applicable to anybody, in any environment. I’ve shown you that stats, science, experience and credible sources that back up the benefits of improving your EQ. I’ve even shown you how to do it, now it’s all up to you.

Author Avatar

Adam Bailey

Adam Bailey is the owner of Bailey Fitness. He's a big believer in putting in the hard work to achieve great results. At Bailey Fitness, he strives to support a like-minded community who work towards their health goals.

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