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Is my EQ high enough for senior management roles?

BY: Brigitte Schwartz|26 February 2019
BLOG| My future career

Interested in progressing to a new - or more senior – general management role? An essential ‘intelligence’ you’ll need to master is emotional intelligence (EI). Your EQ is your emotional quotient – a measurement of your EI. You can ‘score’ better in this through continuous learning to hone your inter- and intrapersonal skills. Why should you do so? Because you’ll be a better leader and earn more ‘social capital’ with your team.

Rode et al. did a study where they followed a sample of 126 ‘college kids’ for 11 to 13 years as they progressed to the workplace. They found that individuals’ EQ was indicative of future success, in that it secured high-EQ participants’ mentorship, which catalysed better salaries down-the-line. The team’s theory was that EQ is essential for building ‘social capital’, which takes the form of social support networks. The results backed up this hypothesis.


The World Economic Forum (WEF) also emphasises the importance of EQ. In fact, it claims 90% of top performers are high in EQ, and that people with high EQ earn an average of $29 000 more annually than those with low EQ.


For managers, creativity and collaboration will be particularly important in a digital age which is conversely demanding a very ‘human’ approach. The key to this? EQ.


The good news is that although EQ is something you’re born with, it’s also something you can learn and hone. Here’s how:

1. Firstly, understand what exactly EQ means…

WEF breaks down EQ into four quadrants:

What I See + Personal Competence = Self awareness

Sustained awareness of your emotions.

What I See + Social Competence = Social awareness

Awareness of other peoples’ emotions to understand where they’re at and what’s happening in their lives.

What I Do + Personal Competence = Self Management

Use your awareness of your emotions to adjust and direct your behaviour.

What I Do + Social Competence = Relationship Management

Let your self-awareness and understanding of others’ emotions enable you to manage interactions in a way that inspires and positively influences your team.

2. Now, consider how to become more self-aware:

Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently published an article titled To improve your team, first work on yourself. This suggests that leaders – and their team members – need to master “internal self-awareness, external self-awareness and personal accountability” to function effectively as a complex team. This starts with internal self-awareness: knowing your internal narrative.


Internal self-awareness:

What makes you ‘tick’? You need to understand your values, drives, emotions and reactions to specific triggers. Acknowledging these will help you recognise the value and importance of other peoples’ perspectives. HBR recommends that when you’re feeling challenged, you ask yourself:


  • “What are my current emotions?
  • What assumptions am I making about this scenario and the other people involved?
  • Are my perceptions overriding the facts?
  • How are my values, drives and emotions impacting my reaction?”

The biggest advice is usually never to rush into reacting. A considered, calm response is always better.


External self-awareness:

Now, consider the impact of your emotions, behaviour and words on others. You can make this more accurate by asking your team members to give you continuous upward feedback on the influence you’re having on them as a leader and colleague.

  • “Ask ‘what am I doing that is/ is not helpful’?
  • Ask ‘what can I do to make our interactions more constructive and positive’?


Personal accountability:

Finally, HBR talks about the need for general managers to identify and take accountability for problems, and then take responsibility for solving them. Always accept your own role in perpetuating an issue. Importantly, laying blame and pointing fingers at others is hardly ever constructive and can be destructive to an internal culture of openness and experimentation.


It’s imperative to be aware and accountable in your leadership approach. You need to:

  • Lead towards the future: Keep learning the latest in leadership theory and apply the roles and qualities of leadership to be an excellent manager now and in the workplace of tomorrow.
  • Acquire the ultimate intelligence: Analyse the impact of emotional intelligence in interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.
  • Make big picture decisions: Try to master strategic problem-solving and learn to engage with all stakeholders to develop smart solutions through a systems approach.
  • Get your message across: Communication is key! Learn to lead discussions, chair meetings, generate reports and deliver outstanding presentations.


Looking to icons such as Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Stephen Hawkins is a great way to understand true emotional intelligence. When people can rise above adversity and remain gracious, kind and empowering to those around them – that is true, inspirational emotional intelligence.


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