It’s not you, it’s me.

You’re right. It IS YOU.

At some point, it is all of us. It is our own emotional intelligence, or lack thereof. According to Travis Bradberry in the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”, the findings demonstrate that CEOs and other executives – on average, have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace. Ouch.

What? Why?

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.  In my work I am often asked to help leaders communicate more effectively. And I always start with Emotional Intelligence or EQ because if our EQ is low, it will be nearly impossible to be an effective communicator.

Here is a little bit about the components of someone with high emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness: People with high emotional intelligence are usually very self-aware. They understand their emotions, and because of this, they don’t let their feelings rule them. They’re confident (not arrogant) because they trust their intuition and don’t let their emotions get out of control.

They’re also willing to take an honest look at themselves. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they work on these areas so they can perform better. Many people believe that this self-awareness is the most important part of emotional intelligence.

  1. Self-Regulation: This is the ability to control emotions and impulses. People who self-regulate typically don’t allow themselves to become too angry or jealous, and they don’t make impulsive, careless decisions. They think before they act. Characteristics of self-regulation are thoughtfulness, comfort with change, integrity and the ability to say no.


  1. Motivation: People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are usually very motivated. They’re willing to defer immediate results for long-term success. They’re highly productive, love a challenge, and are very effective in whatever they do.


  1. Empathy: This is perhaps the second-most important element of emotional intelligence. Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs and viewpoints of those around you. People with empathy are good at recognizing the feelings of others, even when those feelings may not be obvious. As a result, empathetic people are usually excellent at managing relationships, listening, and relating to others – overall good communicators. They avoid stereotyping and judging too quickly, and they live their lives in a very open, honest way.


  1. Social Skills: It’s usually easy to talk to and like people with good social skills, another sign of high emotional intelligence. Those with strong social skills are typically team players. They can manage disputes, are excellent communicators, and are masters at building and maintaining relationships.

Where do you think you fall – Hi, low or average? Regardless, it is clear that Emotional Intelligence plays a key role in our ability to assess a problem, communicate and collaborate on a solution, thereby preserving or deteriorating our culture.  When low EQ is present, it’s catchy…

Here’s a quick list of all of the areas impacted by EQ in the workplace, as illustrated in “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”:

  • Time Management
  • Assertiveness
  • Empathy
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Anger Management
  • Trust
  • Presentation Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Flexibility
  • Change Tolerance
  • Decision-Making
  • Communication

And…what follows are some suggestions for you and your peers to develop a higher level of EQ, which translates to less conflict, increased productivity and a pathway to building a culture of leadership and loyalty.

Ways to build emotional Intelligence

  1. Observe you how react to people. Do you rush to judgment before you know all the facts? Do you stereotype? Look honestly at how you think and interact with people. Try to put yourself in their place, and be more open and accepting of their perspectives and needs.


  1. Look at your work environment. Do you seek attention for your accomplishments? Humility can be a wonderful quality, and it doesn’t mean that you’re shy or lack self-confidence. When you practice humility, you know what you did/contributed, and you can be quietly confident about it. Give others a chance to shine – put the focus on them, and don’t worry about getting too much praise for yourself.


  1. Do a self-evaluation. What are some of your weaknesses? Are you willing to accept that you’re not perfect and that you could work on some areas to make yourself a better person? Have the courage to look at yourself honestly – it can change your life.


  1. Examine how you react to stressful situations. Do you become upset every time there’s a delay or something doesn’t happen the way you want? Do you blame others or become angry at them, even when it’s not their fault? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued – in the business world and outside it. Keep your emotions under control when things go wrong.


  1. Take responsibility for your actions. If you hurt someone’s feelings, apologize directly. Don’t ignore what you did or avoid the person. People are usually more willing to forgive and forget if you make an honest attempt to make things right.


  1. Examine how your actions will affect others – before you take those actions. If your decision will impact others, put yourself in their place. How will they feel if they do this? Would you want that experience? If you must take the action, how can you help others deal with the effects?

As leaders you’re in the business of solving problems every single day. Consider the above strategies as a playbook to help you sharpen your saw and lead by example each and every day.