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 5 signs that show you lack Emotional Intelligence  

By Brad Barker

First of all, you may be asking, “What is Emotional Intelligence?”

Emotional Intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we:

  • Perceive and express ourselves
  • Develop and maintain social relationships
  • Cope with challenges
  • Use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.

 Why is it important to have emotional intelligence as a leader then?

A lot of people may think that it is more important to have a higher IQ, or a certain type of personality to be a good leader. However, studies have shown that IQ, and personality have very little impact on how successful you will be as a leader. People with high emotional intelligence are more likely to be considered successful leaders in their work place.

So, with that in mind, we all have a level of emotional intelligence, however if your role is to be a leader, then there may be a skill that you are lacking which is undermining you now.

Here are the 5 signs that show you lack emotional intelligence as a leader:

  1. You lack Empathy

Empathy is the ability to feel what others feel, to put yourself in their shoes.
I can hear you saying,
“Yes, but I must make tough decisions that people don’t like, and empathy gets in the way. I have to drive this business to get the most out of it!”
Well, this will have short-term results. From what I learnt from my first job as a manager, is that this will have no long-term consequences. Your people will do what you need of them there and then, but if they don’t feel that you understand them, they will be quickly talking to your competitors, or recruiters about another job.

2. You lack Assertiveness

As a leader, you need to be assertive and make decisions every day.
Are your people getting frustrated because you defer to others to make decisions all the time, or because you need to get a consensus every time a difficult decision needs to be made?
Or are you waiting and hoping that things will pan out because you are too afraid to decide?
Assertiveness is vital to be a good leader. You must be seen as someone that backs themselves, their people, and the decisions they make.

3. You lack Stress Tolerance

It goes without saying that stress goes with the job of being a leader.
There can be amazing days when everything is working out just as you had planned it, but then there can be days when the proverbial hits the fan. These things can be stressful. People who lack stress tolerance are more likely to hole up in their office, and not come out leaving the team leaderless in a difficult situation. Or they may go the opposite, and start to micromanage everyone. Either way, you melt when the pressure is on.

4. You lack Optimism

I am not talking about blind optimism, like the people adjusting the deck chairs on the Titanic as it is sinking. I am talking about seeing the best in people, and the best in bad situations.
Recently, I was working with a company that was having a bad run of months. It would have been so easy to start picking out the negatives of their quarter, and what they should be doing more of. Instead, what I encouraged the business leader to do was to point out to his team the good hard work that they were doing, and that if they continue doing those things then it will turn around. The quarter did finish within expectations, but the grit the leader and his team showed throughout that quarter caused them to have a fantastic quarter the following term.
It was a genuine turning point for the business. The leader could have been pessimistic, and started crushing his people, but he did not. Optimism won through, and they have a much stronger business because of it today.

5. You lack the ability to see Reality

In my industry this is called Reality testing. Reality testing is where you are able to see the woods for the trees. More importantly, when things are getting stressful, or even emotional (positive emotions, or negative emotions) you are able to see what is really going on.

This can show up in different ways, for example, when a project is going so well, and the team are working hard, and everyone around you is telling you that you are doing an amazing job, emotions can be high, and you are cut off to the threats to may loom. 

Conversely, when things are going bad, and negative emotions are high, you may not be able to put things in to perspective and see a way out of a bad situation, because you have not been able to put perspective in due to your clouded emotions.

There are many other factors with emotional intelligence that would be great to go into, and it is such an intriguing topic. However, it is pertinent to ask yourself whether you lack in one or more than one of these areas, as it will undermine your leadership ability.

The important thing with Emotional Intelligence is to have balance across these areas.

If you have too much empathy, and not enough assertiveness, you will not be doing what is best for the business. If you are great with reality testing, but lack optimism, you will be too heavily focussed on the bad things that are coming your way.

At SG Partners, we are able to assess your Emotional Intelligence areas using the renowned EQi 2.0 Assessment Tool. We have helped many leaders and team members over the years with this tool, and we would be very happy to discuss this further with you.