importance of EQ skills in producing business success

Practically Speaking…What’s This EQ About? And Does It Really Matter?

In our previous posts on EQ (Emotional Intelligence), we defined EQ and shared how EQ has impacted the bottom line for several of world’s largest companies. In this post, we’re going to focus the discussion on practical ways EQ can impact our everyday lives.

You’ve been a customer, right? At some point along the way, you’ve had something go wrong. The cable guy didn’t show up on time. Your expensive car repair didn’t fix the problem. Your flight got cancelled. Your food was cold or over cooked when it was served. A check bounced and you had to deal with the bank. You get the picture. We’ve all been there.

EQ has a lot to do with what happens next because, as we’ve previously learned, EQ is how well we (and others) understand and manage emotions…as well has how well we (and others) establish and maintain relationships.

Here’s how this can play out in a not-so-positive way. Let’s say your flight just got cancelled. It’s been a long day…you want to get home. You walk up to the service counter…the airline representative doesn’t even look up. Instead they mumble something under their breath as they continue looking at the computer screen. As you wait “patiently” to be recognized…you’re growing angrier by the second. You finally can’t take it anymore. You want service…and you want it now! Loud enough for everyone around to hear, you say, “Excuse me. Is it possible to get a little bit of service around here?” The reply is predictable. “Look! No one—including you—is going anywhere right now anyway…give me a minute for my computer to come back online. Then I’ll see what I can do.” From this point on, the interaction never recovers.

What just happened? Chances are this person has received extensive customer service training. They know what they should say or do…but they let their emotions get away from them. All their customer service skills go out the window. And be honest! You weren’t so innocent in the whole matter either. It was your “excuse me” comment that got the conversation off track from the beginning.

Here’s another situation to consider…one that plays out on roadways everywhere…and one that can have much more detrimental consequences.

Say you’re driving down the road when, out of nowhere, another car whizzes around you. You have to swerve to avoid a collision. Your heart rate quickens…your muscles tense…you grit your teeth and grip the steering wheel, white knuckled. You break out in a cold sweat. One thing is for sure. You’re so mad you can’t see straight. Nothing else matters except not letting the driver “get away” with it. You speed up…smiling…with thoughts of the other car in the ditch.

All the situations I’ve described have one thing in common. Each person involved, in their own way, suffered an EQ meltdown of sorts. They let their emotions get highjacked. Once highjacked…the encounter was on a fast track for an unproductive, maybe disastrous, outcome.

Does EQ matter? Absolutely! Can you relate? I bet you can. I know I can!

What are some lessons to be learned? There are several:

  • First. If you’re someone who’s involved in customer service training…recognize that having service skills is only part of the equation. It’s essential to help employees strengthen their EQ so that when emotionally-charged situations arise with customers, they have the EQ to turn those situations into wins instead of losses for your organization. We’d be happy to discuss more about this with you.
  • Second. Pay attention to what highjacks you emotionally. Awareness is the first step to managing your emotional reactions. When challenged, take some deep breaths…count to 10…smile and force yourself to make a positive comment…put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  • Third. Think altruistic thoughts if you have a situation like the driver I described earlier. Maybe there’s a medical emergency. Maybe there’s something wrong with the car. (That really happens…it happened to me years ago.)
  • Fourth. EQ impacts our lives constantly. We can’t escape it. The better you understand and manage your emotions…the easier it will be to establish and maintain relationships with others. Often times, the difference comes down to responding with empathy not reacting on impulse.

A final thought! Last night, my husband and I watched the movie Up In The Air. George Clooney’s character flies around the country firing people on behalf of companies who are unwilling to face employees who are being laid off. Talk about EQ being put to the test! My heart ached for each person Clooney’s character fired.

There were several interesting ironies in the movie. Here’s one. Clooney’s character was incredibly successful in his job—firing people! Why? Because he never let the other person’s emotions, however raw or visceral, hijack him. He stayed in control of his emotions 100% of the time. His EQ was off the charts when it came to doing his job.

Try this experiment. Watch a movie or TV show. Observe the interactions between characters and how each handles emotionally-charged situations. Use these on-screen performances to build your own EQ awareness. I promise, there will be no shortage of demonstrations to draw on.

Blueline Helps Pharmaceutical Firm Develop Employee’s Emotional Intelligence Skills

In our last post, we looked at the recent history of emotional intelligence, and how it has rooted itself so firmly in the awareness of today’s business landscape. A stunning success story in terms of “viral ideas” it has proven its value many times over through demonstrable results as reported by the world’s most influential organizations.

In this post, I want to tell you the compelling story of a project Blueline Simulations recently completed with a Fortune 120 pharmaceutical firm that involved the use of assessments, executive coaching, and customized training.

The client organization engaged Blueline to develop a solution for key positions in the clinical trial pipeline –  one that touched more than 80 leaders. The objective was three-fold: to build a greater awareness of the importance of EQ skills; to provide an understanding of where each person had strengths and gaps related to their skills; and to provide development opportunities for people to grow skills and acquire new ones in managing their emotions, and managing their relationships with other people. Our client was committed to the idea that EQ behaviors were integral to the success of this important team, and that increasing skill would also increase productivity and results.

The project consisted of four phases:

1.  Attendance at a class called “Foundations of EQ” which explained fundamental concepts and explored core behaviors of EQ success.

2.  An EQ 360 assessment in which the individual assessed their own skills, as well as the skills of their manager, colleagues and direct reports.

3.  Individual coaching to each participant based on their assessment results.

4.  Customized training based on the overall strengths and skill gaps discovered in the assessment results.

From launch to completion, the project’s four phases took six months. Within a month of completion of the project, each participant was asked to evaluate the project. The preliminary results show that the participants were convinced that this program will make a difference in their business lives, and interestingly, in their personal lives as well.

  • 85% said it was the best combination of training and development they had received at their organization, or from any other organization.
  • 87% agreed that they gained knowledge and skills they can use on their job.
  • 85% agreed that they would use this knowledge and skill in their personal lives.
  • 87% were satisfied or very satisfied with the investment of time and effort as compared to the results of the training.

But obviously participant impressions are just part of the story. While it’s premature to cite definitive business impact for the project outlined above, in my previous blog I cited numerous examples of business impacts at companies as far reaching as Coca-Cola and Fortune Brands.  In my 30 plus years as a consultant and trainer, I have come to believe that any business result can be greatly improved simply by focusing on the quality of the personal transactions that delivered that result. Emotional intelligence is an idea whose time has come, and today is delivering enormous gains in speed, efficiency, and quality of human interactions.

I don’t know you or your organization, but I can say with confidence that you have enormous opportunities to leverage the power of emotional intelligence to deliver quantitatively better business results.

Ask me how. Because I think the next success story could be yours.

Welcome to the Golden Age of Emotional Intelligence

Or: How’s YOUR Company’s EQ?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was first introduced to the business world in 1998, when Daniel Goleman’s article on EQ was published in the Harvard Business Review. Goleman was one of the primary researchers who defined the term “emotional intelligence.” He also defined what behaviors indicate skill in using emotional intelligence, as well as what the lack of skill looks like behaviorally.

Simply stated, emotional intelligence is how well we understand and manage our emotions, as well as how well we establish and maintain relationships with others.

Emotional intelligence created a lot of buzz at the time of Goleman’s article. To this day, it is the most reprinted article in the HBR archives. Yet business was slow to figure out how to use this knowledge, and in some cases even rejected the concept as too “touchy-feely” to apply to business situations.

But not anymore! The field of neuroscience has enhanced our knowledge of how and why the brain does what it does. Today we have a richer knowledge of the importance of EQ skills in producing business success, and in predicting individual success. We now have scientifically validated behavior assessments that help us understand our skill strengths and skill gaps in managing our personal emotions, and in managing our professional and personal relationships.

Even more exciting are the reams of data that are now showing the direct impact these skills have on business results. Consider the following examples:

  • The Coca-Cola Company saw division leaders who developed their EQ skills outperform their targets by 15%.
  • The U.S. Air Force reduced recruiter turnover from 35% to 5% annually by selecting candidates high in emotional intelligence.
  • Fortune Brands had 100% of their leaders who went through EQ development exceed their performance targets, compared to just 28% of leaders who failed to develop their EQ skills.
  • Sales people at an insurance firm who scored high on an emotional intelligence test sold 37% more in their first two years than those who scored lower.

Now that the results are rolling in, emotional intelligence has found its legitimacy as a key business and leadership capability… with the ability to deliver stunning business results.

It’s a golden age in the exploration and application of emotional intelligence, and if your organization hasn’t tapped into the power, then now is a great time. And we have some learning opportunities that you can put to work right away.

In our next blog post, we will share with you a recent project in which Blueline Simulations worked with a Fortune 120 pharmaceutical firm in assessing the EQ skills of 80 of their leaders, including coaching provided around the assessment results, and customized training to further develop EQ skills. Mark this page and join us later, and we’ll tell you the whole story!