Robyn was talking to me about doing a piece on EI. At first I thought she meant one of our other newsletters called Executive Insider, but that wasn't the case. She was talking about what is known in the trade as Emotional Intelligence which came from Daniel Goleman's book Working with Emotional Intelligence. Since I had not read Goleman's book, and knowing my type A personality, she gave me the cliff note definition of EI which went like this: "...the ability to make decisions based on assessing the feelings of others and self." She also shared with me the EI (aka EQ -Emotional Quotient) competency set from Goleman's book:
- Self-Awareness – knowing your internal emotional status and behavioral tendencies. Includes: emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment and self-confidence.
- Self-Regulation – managing your internal state and external impulses. Includes: self control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability and innovation.
- Motivation – tendencies that facilitate reaching goals. Includes: achievement drive, commitment, initiative and optimism.
- Empathy – awareness of the feelings of others needs and concerns. Includes: understanding others, developing others, service orientation, leveraging diversity and political awareness.
- Social Skills – proficiency in promoting desirable responses in others. Includes: influence, communication, conflict management, leadership, change catalyst, building bonds, collaboration and cooperation, and team capabilities.
Source: Adapted from Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, PhD
So I am reading and talking about all this and wondering what all the excitement is about. Doesn't it just stand to reason that if a leader does a good job at "assessing the feelings of others and self" that things would go a heck of a lot better than if they didn't? I mean how hard it that to understand? Isn't it just common sense?
After congratulating myself on the fact that I didn't need a book to tell me all this, that, after all, these were all traits that I saw myself as having in spades, I then paused to ask myself, “Well look Dave, if you had all this EI DNA going on then how was it that you have had more than your fair share of managerial screw ups over the years? And by the way, if you see yourself as such an EI superstar, how come you didn't do a better job at raising your kids, or how come you were batting considerably less than 1.000 when it came to making hiring decisions or any of the other nearly limitless items you could add to such a list?”
The more I thought about it, the faster it brought me back to the reality that understanding something on an intellectual level was a hell of a lot different than understanding it on an emotional level and certainly much easier on either level than living it day-to-day.
I guess that's one of the reasons why there will always be a rich market for people to help coach me to learn and apply what I already "know".