I recently spoke with the director of human resources a San Francisco Bay Area company regarding providing executive coaching for the company’s CEO. The director of human resources asked some very insightful questions to determine whether we were a good fit. She specifically wanted to know how I worked with different personality styles, and my methods for initiating behavior change. She was very interested in my executive coaching work with helping CEO’s improve their emotional intelligence and the link to leadership.
The director of human resources and I spoke about my approach to coaching, and my belief that possessing a psychological understanding of human behavior and business acumen are important competencies for coaching executives. We also spoke of the need for her organization to work with a management consultant to help their company create a culture where creativity and innovation thrives.
The director of human resources is interested in partnering with me in helping their CEO become more emotionally intelligent and inspirational. We further discussed how other company executives could benefit by working with a seasoned executive coach.
Emotional Intelligence, IQ and Personality Are Different
Emotional intelligence taps into a fundamental element of human behavior that is distinct from your intellect. There is no connection between IQ and emotional intelligence. Intelligence is your ability to learn, as well as retrieve and apply knowledge.
Emotional intelligence is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. While some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren’t born with it.
Personality is the stable “style” that defines each of us. It’s the result of hard-wired preferences, such as the inclination toward introversion or extroversion. IQ, emotional intelligence and personality each cover unique ground and help explain what makes us tick.
EI and Income
You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but it’s rare. People with a high degree of EI make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than those with low EI.
The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so well founded that every point increase in EI adds $1,300 to one’s annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world.
The news media have highlighted numerous cases involving failed CEOs derailed by their low EI. Press coverage has prompted boards to become more sensitive to this leadership trait.
You’re prone to ethical failures if you overestimate your intelligence and believe you’ll never get caught. Arrogance distorts your capacity to read situations accurately.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, neurosciences journalist Jonah Lehrer discusses the contradiction of power — essentially, how nice people can change when they assume positions of authority.
“People in power tend to reliably overestimate their moral virtue, which leads them to stifle oversight,” he writes. “They lobby against regulators, and fill corporate boards with their friends. The end result is sometimes power at its most dangerous.”
How to Develop EI
Research by Daniel Goleman and other experts supports the view that EI can be learned, and it seems to rise with age and maturity.
In 2005, TalentSmart measured the EI of 3,000 top executives in China. The Chinese leaders scored, on average, 15 points higher than American executives in self-management and relationship management. To compete globally, the United States must pay attention to emotional competencies.
Developing your EI skills is not something you learn in school or by reading a book. It takes training, practice and reinforcement. The first step is measurement, through behavioral-based interviews and 360-degree feedback.
Executives with little experience in receiving feedback can find this approach somewhat threatening. Try to conquer your fears, as the process brings needed attention to gaps and development opportunities. It may be best to work with an executive coach.
Remember: Your emotional state and actions affect how others feel and perform. This trickle-down effect contributes to — or sabotages — your organization’s well-being.