Quick Quiz – Are You Smart Enough?

It’s a new year and time for a fresh start…what better time to assess if you’re smart enough!  Really?  You bet – read on for the inside story.

If you performed reasonably well in school, have an above average IQ and regularly get feedback that you’re technically competent – you may think this article is for someone else. And you would be wrong…because as important as these measures of intelligence may be, they pale in comparison with the area that matters most for success in business and life… Emotional Intelligence!

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) measures your ability to understand and manage your emotions, as well as the emotions of those around you.  Daniel Goleman first made the concept famous back in the 90’s, and it’s now become accepted as a key indicator of better business performance.  In fact, studies have shown that a full 90% of the top performers in business and leadership roles score high in EQ.

EQ really matters!  And the best news is that unlike IQ, you have the capacity to increase it!

In this first of a four-part series, I will take you through the four key elements of Emotional Intelligence so you can get a sense of your own EQ and develop some strategies to increase it over the course of the year.

EQ – Part 1 – Self-Awareness:


Please rate how true the following statements are for you (True, Somewhat true, or False):

  • When I experience an emotion, I usually know the reason behind it
  • I usually understand why I do the things I do
  • I observe how others are responding to me – I’m aware of my impact
  • I know what motivates and satisfies me
  • I can usually describe accurately what feeling I am having
  • I’m clear which people and situations push my buttons

The truer the above statements are for you – the higher your EQ Self-Awareness.

Self-awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your own emotions as you experience them.  And why is this important?  Because if you aren’t aware of what’s going on inside, your emotions will run the show, and you’ll be unaware or worse, wrong, about how you’re showing up as a leader.

So want to get to work and increase your Self-Awareness?   Here are some tips…

(1) Observe the ripple effect from your emotions

If you let your emotions run the show, you can be guaranteed that it’s impacting the people around you – but if you have low self-awareness, you may not be aware of this.

Have you been present when a manager angrily criticized a co-worker?  That manager was unlikely aware of how much his outburst had the rest of the team deciding to play it safe to avoid being his next target.   A sudden decrease in initiative and creativity could well be the ripple effects of that manager’s emotions.

The feelings you display may be much more subtle than in this example, but the question remains – are you aware of the ripple effect and ultimate impact of your emotions?

(2) Feel your emotions physically 

If you’re angry, sad or frustrated and try to ignore it – these feelings will eventually surface in a way you weren’t planning. Perhaps you’ll react defensively with a colleague or find yourself snapping at your kids.

Take notice of what you’re body is telling you when you have a strong emotion.  Notice if you feel your heart beating faster, your breath becoming shallow, or if you feel tension through your shoulders.  Believe it or not, if you allow yourself to be alone and just feel the emotion in your body, it will have less of a hold on you.  Seriously – try it!

Being more tuned-in to how your body expresses feelings can give you a great “heads up” about when you’re at risk of reacting mindlessly to your emotions.

(3) Understand the root of your emotions:

Let’s say a colleague, Eleanor, is always grabbing the spotlight in your monthly meetings and it has you seething.  Try to articulate the thought process you’re going through.  If you follow the trail of thoughts it could include… “Eleanor has no regard for the rest of us.  She’s soliciting attention unfairly.  She’s going to get that next promotion instead of me. How dare she attack me in this way??”

Sometimes you need to see your whole thought process to be able to stand back and see how much of a hold an emotion has on you.  You can continue to see yourself being “attacked” by Eleanor and notice the ripple effect.  Or, you can try to stand back and see how your thoughts have triggered strong feelings, and try to re-frame your thoughts so your feelings don’t hijack how you show up in your meetings.

One way of tracking your thoughts is to record them in a journal. This can give you a better handle on what triggers you.

Increasing your Self-Awareness takes work, but what’s not to like about learning more about an amazing person – yourself!   Let me know how you fare with the tips above!

Stay tuned for discussion of another aspect of Emotional Intelligence!

This article references ideas from “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”  by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves