[PODCAST] Why Emotional Intelligence is a Must-Have Skill

A Podcast Interview with Kerry Goyette

Fast Company calls Emotional Intelligence the fastest-growing, must-have skills for leaders.

What is Emotional Intelligence? Why is it a must-have skill?  Can it protect your career from replacement by a machine? Will it help you thrive in the new world of work?

Listen now to this episode of Geeks Geezers and Googlization when our guest Kerry Goyette provides answers to questions as she introduces her new book “Non-obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence.”

Goyette starts with her definition of emotional intelligence (also called EI and EQ too): “ the ability to identify, assess, and control your emotions, and influence the emotions of others and groups.” In addition to self and others, controlling your emotions in different environments is important too, especially in these volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world (VUCA) in which we live.

To boost your emotional intelligence and ultimately relate effectively with others, you must start with and be connected  with your Self. Unfortunately, we tend to over-estimate our Self and under-estimate Others. This is a symptom of low EI. We then mirror this inaccurate perception onto others, skewing the root of friction or under-performance in teams. In other words – we tend to point fingers at both others or the environment, instead of asking “am I reading the situation correctly and responding appropriately?” At the end of the day, being self-aware, allows you to recognize the needs of others, as well as assess and adapt appropriately to your environment. Self, others, and environment are therefore the trifecta of emotional intelligence.

Boosting emotional intelligence isn’t only a personal development tool. It builds high performing teams too. Many leaders however don’t approach it that way.

Often, consulting engagements begin with a call for a “team building” event when performance issues or interpersonal conflicts are the real issue. To avoid singling individuals out and accepting responsibility, the leaders choose the team building event as a diversion and guise. That’s another display of low emotional intelligence.  Not only does it indicate a failure to look at Self first, this common approach fails time and again because EI does not improve with a lunch & learn or “sheep-dip”day-long retreat. Improving EI is a process not a “pill.”

That’s why when called to work with a group, Goyette recommends starting with the leader. Many  leaders look outward at their teams, seeking to find out what others must do to improve. But with a focus on emotional intelligence, the leader is encouraged to look inward at his own strengths and vulnerabilities first.

The process begins with a series of self-assessments. Goyette also recommends getting feedback from others about your Self to see what they think you do well and identify areas where you can improve. This type of feedback can be painful and hard to hear. But using  this approach, the leader has a transparent blueprint to grow his Self and, by default, improve his team.

A good ice breaking question to boost emotional intelligence is: “What are you trying to fix?” When you are part of a team you are part of an evolving, dynamic eco-system. Therefore, you need to address the system. Help weaker performing individuals grow their EI and put stronger performing individuals into group settings where they can implement those skills. Play with the system. Experiment and see what works and what doesn’t.

We also talked about the relationship between emotional intelligence and generational gaps. Baby Boomers and Gen X incorrectly blame Millennials for behavior associated with low emotional intelligence.  Yet emotional intelligence isn’t directly correlated with age or work experience. They are far too many Baby Boomers and Gen X who haven’t achieved their potential due to low emotional intelligence while many Millennials and even Gen Z shine.

One point of contention between older managers and young workers is feedback.  Born in an age when the paycheck and promotion was the only feedback a Baby Boomer received, older managers do not relate well with the digitally adept Millennial and Gen Z workers who thrive on innovation, instant feedback and training where and when they need it.  The lack of timely feedback and training is causing many 20 and 30-somethings to leave their jobs. Managers see it as a lack of loyalty when it’s really another sign managers don’t observe and respond effectively to the emotions of others and the changing environment. This disconnect between expectations, empathy, and adaptation in leadership causes workers to feel lost in the system with no guidance or opportunity for professional growth … so they quit.

Goyette closed the show with insight into the six most common performance  derailers: conflict avoidance, impulsivity, blame shifting, control, perfectionism, and power hunger. Humans are messy. For example, as managers (and humans) we tend to focus on the 87% job fit often revealed in a pre-employment test and accept no one is perfect. But in many cases it’s the 13% that might need our attention. Derailers often lead to a performance casualty or massive team disruption if ignored. Consequently, it is vital for all employers to develop self-awareness to identify your personal derailers too and then learn how to manage them.

Kerry Goyette’s book, “Non-Obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence” is available for preorder now on Amazon and launches in stores June 28, 2019.