Achieving Emotional Intelligence

No matter where you are in your career, no matter what industry your organization focuses on, whether you are a professional in a suit or a professional athlete, the ultimate desired outcome is high performance. Considering that high performance and good decision-making are the ultimate outcomes, how are they attained? There is no doubt that general intelligence and technical skills contribute to high performance. However, to truly succeed consistently, one must also possess a high level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Considering that high performance and good decision-making are the ultimate outcomes, how are they attained? There is no doubt that general intelligence and technical skills contribute to high performance. However, to truly succeed consistently, one must also possess a high level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). EQ is the process of recognizing, managing, and appropriately leveraging emotions within yourself and with others. The value of emotional intelligence increases dramatically with job complexity. Research has shown that those with high EQ are 127 times more productive than those with low EQ1. Through his research, Goleman has concluded that the key differentiator between star and average performers is EQ2.

Generally speaking, high performance is determined by the competencies you naturally possess or have learned and acquired. For example, in sports, how good you are at shooting a free throw will, in part, determine how good you are at playing basketball. In business, your competence in leading a team will, in part, determine your performance as a manager. Training seeks to build such skills and competencies. Our performance on these individual skills and competencies is governed by our behaviors – how well can we optimize these competencies.3 For example, someone very good at presenting (competency) may perform dismally if his behavior before, during, or after the presentation event is not appropriate.


“CEOs are hired for their intellect and business expertise – and fired for a lack of emotional intelligence.”

—Dr. Daniel Goleman


Preceding these day-to-day behaviors is cognition – part of which includes our IQ. It is your cognition --how you think -- that determines how you will behave, which in turn determines how you can optimize your competencies, which in turn determines whether you perform at a high level.

Emotions, precede cognition and behavior. Our first reaction to a stimulus is an emotional one. An abundance of research over the past several decades has supported the primacy of affect in interpreting the world around us and, in turn, affecting our thoughts and behaviors. The workplace is first perceived through our emotions. Co-workers may cause frustration; a raise may invoke feelings of pride and satisfaction; and receiving a stretch assignment may lead to a complex combination of stress and determination. Am I safe? Am I in danger? Will I fight or will I take flight? Our emotions are the source – the foundation of everything else. These emotions are very real and a heightened emotional state can distort our cognition and logical thought processes. Clearly, if you are in fight mode, the set of thinking sequences is quite different than if you are in flight mode. And both of those situations exert a vastly different cognitive effect than when you are at emotional equilibrium. Your ability to think clearly determines how you behave which, in turn, determines how well you can use your competencies to perform. Considering that performance at work is defined and judged based on behavioral observations, the importance of properly managing emotions becomes all the more important. Indeed, the competencies that separate good employees from great ones are based on leadership skills (which have a strong basis in emotion, “EQpowerment”) and job relevant behaviors. This sequence is a physiological sequence – it occurs in our bodies. It is not a philosophical one or a conceptual one. Neuropsychiatrists, through virtual reality and body mapping, have shown that the initial reaction to a stimulus is not the firing of brain cells, but that of endorphins being released - emotions.

This notion of mastering performance by appreciating the role of emotions is what we call “EQpowerment”, for there is no greater component to empowerment (skill to make the best decisions) than having high levels of EQ. Unfortunately, the focus of the majority of professional training solutions in the past two decades has been on skills, not EQ. These methods, while well intentioned, only focus on teaching the outcomes of good EQ. But a focus on skill is for naught if not coupled with a proven process on improving the emotional competence that underlies those competencies. A focus on improving cognition, behaviors and EQ will lead to a more effective workforce – an EQpowered workforce. The missing link to empowerment has now been identified.


“The idea behind emotional intelligence in the workplace is that it is a skill through which employees treat emotions as valuable as data in navigating a situation. Let’s say a sales manager has come up with an amazing idea that will increase corporate revenues by up to 200%, but knows his boss tends to be irritable and short-tempered in the morning. Having emotional intelligence means that the manager will first recognize and consider this emotional fact about his boss. Despite the stunning nature of his idea – and his own excitement – he will regulate his own emotions, curb his enthusiasm and wait until the afternoon to approach his boss.”

— Wharton Management Professor Sigal Barsade


EQ and Leadership

The single most important element in group intelligence is not the average, or even the highest IQ, but emotional intelligence4. Executive EQ argues that a single participant who is low in EQ can lower the collective IQ of the entire group5. Further, the EQ and emotional tone of the group is most strongly affected by the leader’s EQ. Emotional management is crucial in leadership6. A good leader creates an emotionally safe workplace and successfully manages her own and others’ emotions7. The EQ of leaders affects individual, group, and organizational outcomes. Research shows that the EQ of a team leader has positive effects on not only team members’ satisfaction, but also extra-role behavior aimed at the entire organization. These findings suggest a ripple effect of positive outcomes that can be tied to leaders with high levels of EQ. Indeed, at the top levels of leadership, EQ accounts for as much as 90% of success.

EQ can be Learned!

Unlike one’s level of IQ, which changes very little from childhood, emotional intelligence includes skills that can be learned at any age9. Research agrees that people can be taught to better manage emotions10. In fact, the skills of emotional intelligence are so attainable that one’s level of EQ tends to increase with experiences. Seeing the value of EQ as a trainable skill, more and more business schools are adding emotional competency training11. So, what is a 30-year-old to do in a room full of 40-year old customers, especially when he knows his competition has likely received some sort of emotional management training? This is the battlefield of the workplace that can be highly impacted by EQ. However, most emotional intelligence programs have failed to deliver results in increasing attendee’s emotional intelligence.

This is mostly due to their flawed methodology – significant, sustained EQ learning occurs over an extended period of time – not in a classroom, two day seminar, or workshop.

EPowerment and Learning

EQmentor provides a powerful learning advantage by enacting the components and principles of EPowerment. EPowerment is the state of empowerment – achieved. For decades, human capital theories have recognized the importance of an empowered employee. In the past few years, the industry has realized the importance of emotional intelligence. But until now, no intervention has been able to successfully increase EQ or fully empower employees to a meaningful degree. The good news is that EQ and empowerment go hand-in- hand. And thanks to technological innovation, the opportunity is available to everyone. EPowerment brings together empowerment, electronic communication, and EQpowerment.

Empowerment involves the often-discussed but rarely observed practice of incorporating decision-making at all levels of an organization. Without employees with well-developed emotional intelligence, empowerment models are just concepts without a complete follow-through.

Electronic communication is the second component of EPowerment. EQ is best learned at the point-of-need. Prior to technological accessibility, point-of-need learning was just an ideal. Today, it is a possibility.

EQpowerment, already discussed, is the final and most important component of EPowerment. The apprenticeship model of years past was much more than skills training of making chairs and tables – it was about dealing with people…it was about EQ. Somehow in our learning solutions, we have lost this key message along the way.

The Five EPowerment Learning Principles are essential to enhance the EQ of working professionals:

  • Extended Learning Model Emotional Safety
  • Outcome-based Learning
  • Mentoring
  • Multi-mode Learning

The extended learning model allows for point of need professional development. In order to increase your emotional intelligence, you must capitalize on your learning moments. All of us go through multiple experiences each week that we can learn from. Often these take place during emotional situations. If we could take those emotional experiences and process them, we can turn these learning moments into AHA! moments. The catch is that you must do it while you are experiencing the emotion. Since emotions are transient, they are gone just as quickly as they happen. However, it is when emotions are strongest that learning truly occurs.

For example, constructive feedback from your supervisor may lead to negative and upsetting emotions. When you are upset in this manner, you are in the ideal position to learn from that emotion and its effects on your behavior. This is your learning moment.

An emotionally safe learning environment allows for maximum growth. Ironically, our workplaces are some of the most emotionally unsafe environments – an obstacle to true growth and learning. Imagine the possibilities for insight and self-improvement when we can share our emotional reactions to the day-to-day frustrations that occur in the workplace.

Outcome-based learning connects development to business results. When there is a relevancy and immediacy to the application of the learning, adults will have true learning experiences, the kind that really makes an impact. Not only is this beneficial for individual career growth, the organization can see a discernible impact from the implementation of innovative ideas that are a result of empowered employees.

Mentoring allows for experiential knowledge transfer from someone who has walked your path. You can get all the skills training from a textbook, Wikipedia, or even YouTube videos. Yet to hear the wisdom of those who have been there and done that which you are currently experiencing is priceless.

Last but certainly not least, multi-mode learning ensures you learn what you need, in the manner which you need it. We all learn differently. Further, experiencing similar learning material through multiple modalities is arguably one of the best ways to learn something and have it stick.

Working adults in general have four primary developmental areas: physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional. We have gyms, libraries, schools, books, and places of worship to develop these, but where is “Life’s Gym” where an adult can safely explore emotions to harness knowledge and wisdom to make better daily decisions? Athletes are allowed to practice their skills in order to achieve peak performance. To truly achieve higher performance, enable corporate professionals to have this opportunity as well.

Call Shawn Kent Hayashi at The Professional Development Group and we’ll show you how you or your team members can develop in Emotional Intelligence using an Extended Learning Model, while experiencing Emotional Safety, Outcome-based Learning, Industry specific Mentoring, and Multi-mode Learning.