By Jonathan Kirschner, Psy.D. • September 2, 2010

Emotional Intelligence in a Nutshell: Part II

(Information is referenced from part I, such as the Bar-On EI competencies, highlighted in bold)

Suzy is  a senior-level manager and Joe, a project manager, is one of her direct reports. For the past two months, Joe has experienced significant bumps in his personal life, including recent health issues and an increasingly messy divorce from his wife. For the last month it has been clear that Joe’s personal issues have crossed over into his work life, affecting his work performance.
For his manager, Suzy, a rudimentary level of Emotioanal Intelligence (EI) (Interpersonal - empathy) is required to correctly detect and connect the dots between Joe's personal situation and his current performance.

But a whole other set of EI competencies will be required to leverage this information to make decisions and take action. On the one hand we empathize with Joe, on the other hand, work isn't getting done and all of Joe's direct reports are losing motivation and becoming frustrated. Now Suzy has entered into a  more complex matrix of decisions. She must find a way to let Joe know she feels sympathetic for him (Interpersonal - empathy;interpersonal - relationships), but at the same time, must point out the business consequences of Joe's derailing behaviors (Intrapersonal - assertiveness). In making this negotiation, Suzy may have to confront and overcome her own discomfort with confrontation (Stress management - stress tolerance), and in calculating her final decisions, will likely need to demonstrate flexibility to Joe (Adaptability - flexibility) while infusing a sense of optimism and hope (General mood - optimism) toward Joe's close-to-derailing direct reports.

In sum, Suzy's high EI enabled her to understand what motivates herself emotionally, what moves others emotionally, and how to make decisions based on the confluence of that data. If Suzy were to fall short in just one of these basic EI competency areas, the probability of mismanaging an already difficult situation becomes greater.

So a much better way to leverage EI would be to throw out the cookie cutter power point slides for an actual assessment of your EI. What good is knowing about the concept of EI, or studying it academically, if you don't know how it maps on to your own constellation of strengths and weaknesses?

At AIIR Consulting, we believe one of the five critical dimensions for becoming a leader is knowing how to leverage your EI. Therefore, all of our clients, including ROADMAP participants, are administered the Bar-On Eq-i assessment in order to learn about their particular strengths and developmental needs across Bar-On's five sub-scales. Acquiring this invaluable self-awareness, a coachee is able to determine exactly where they need to improve upon and where their greatest assets lie in order to become an emotionally intelligent leader.

Dr. Jonathan Kirschner
CEO, AIIR Consulting