Emotional Intelligence

Blog 1 – LinkedIn 19 October 2018

What is it, and how relevant is it in our role as Governance Professionals?

EI is now widely recognised as being far more important than IQ in determining success whether measured in career success, mental wellbeing, profit or sales, so it should be something we should know about.

There are a number of definitions of EI or EQ.  The one used by Salovey and Mayer who first devised the term EI is: “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feeling and emotions to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide ones thinking and actions”.  Daniel Goldman took concept a step further and developed a framework with five components:-

  1. Self-Awareness – knowing what one is feeling and understanding the impact on others. People with high emotional intelligence are usually very self-aware and understand and keep their emotions in check. They also look at themselves honestly and can evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Self-Regulation – controlling or re-directing emotions, anticipating consequences, not acting on impulse.
  3. Motivation – utilising emotion to persevere and achieve goals.
  4. Empathy – sensing the emotions of others and understanding them. People who have a high sense of empathy do not stereotype or rush to judgement about others.
  5. Social Skills – the ability to talk to others and build and maintain relationships.

I always thought that Emotional Intelligence was one of my strength areas until I realised early in my Company Secretarial career that emotion management was part of EI and that I had a tendency to react defensively if I thought I was being criticised and to catastrophise when anything went wrong.  As a Company Secretary this was unhelpful because things do go wrong and there will always be times when people give you challenging feedback.  Once I realised this, I was able to make a conscious decision to work (with a coach) on these areas and change the way I reacted to a more considered, less emotionally draining way and become a better Governance Professional as a result.

SO… how Emotional Intelligent are you?  There are a number of products available to help you measure your emotional intelligence.  If you google “emotional intelligence” test, hundreds will come up.  You could choose one of the free ones and see what it tells you, bearing in mind that they are likely to be fairly crude but might give you a rough idea.  At the very least the questions may get you thinking a bit more deeply about how you measure up.  Alternatively there are paid for products developed by some of the leading researchers in the field of emotional intelligence e.g.  Emotional Competence Inventory360 but there are many others such as the Boston EI-Q questionnaire, a copy of which is in the “Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook” by Margaret Chapman in the Management Pocketbooks series.

It is widely acknowledged that Governance Professionals need EI to be successful in their roles, as illustrated by the report by Professor Andrew Kakabadse and ICSA (The Company Secretary Building Trust Through Governance https://www.icsa.org.uk/knowledge/research/the-company-secretary-report).

In next week’s blog I will talk about some things that you can do if you feel that this is an area to make some improvements in.

Blog 2 – LinkedIn 26 October 2018

In my blog last week I introduced EI, outlined why it is important for Governance Professionals and how you can find out how emotionally intelligent you are.  If you think this is an area you could work on to enhance your effectiveness as a Governance Professional then what can you do to make improvements?

Let’s begin by referencing the first of Daniel Goldman’s famous five elements that define emotional intelligence.  Self-Awareness (the others being Self-Regulation, Motivation Empathy and Social Skills).

Self awareness is the first component in the Goldman model and is essential for the development of the others.  It is the ability to recognise our emotions and their effects on us and others.  This is essential for a Governance Professional who needs to remain calm, to think carefully, take considered actions and make considered decisions.

To become more self aware here are some of my tried and tested things you could try:-

  • Ask for feedback from others and look for common themes – what are you told about your behaviour by more than one person?
  • Keep a diary – what happens to you each day, how did it make you feel, how did you deal with it and what happened next. Then review your diary and look for trends.  In particular you could concentrate on the physical signals you experienced because this can give you some insight into your internal emotions e.g. did you notice your heart racing or your breathing quicken.  Note down what prompted them, the behaviours that followed them and the consequences.
  • Alternatively, you can track your emotions with a tally sheet throughout the day as you experience them, or every 30 minutes or 1 hour by setting an alarm.
  • If you notice you are experiencing a particular emotion, work back in your mind to determine why and make a note of it.
  • Tune into your senses more and learn to understand them. This means paying attention to what you actually see and hear and not what you think you see and hear to understand how you interpret the information you take in.  We all have filters based on our beliefs, values, drivers and rules which distort the information we receive.  You need to be able to recognise and distinguish between what is actually happening and what your filters have generated.  g. Are you actually being criticised or is it simply a throw away comment from a Board member?

Once you have this data you will better understand your emotional triggers, will be able to predict how you might feel in particular situations and decide on a strategy for dealing with those situations more effectively.   I will talk about this in my blog next week

Blog 3  LinkedIn 2 November 2018

Last week I talked about how you might gather data to become more self aware and about how you currently handle particular situations.  This week I will talk about the second and third elements of the Daniel Goldman EI model – Self-Regulation and Motivation

Second Element – Self regulation

This is taking responsibility for your behaviour and controlling emotions and impulses ie. deciding how to react once you are aware of your emotions. Things you can try to help you self regulate include:-

  • taking a deep breath, wait 6 seconds to avoid the fight or flight emotional high jacking, and ask yourself these questions:-
    • where is the evidence about the way I am thinking?
    • what is the logic in my interpretation?
    • what do I have to lose or gain if I do/say this?
    • what is the worst that can happen?
    • what other options are there?

Taking a deep breath became the thing that made the most difference for me.  I deliberately didn’t react immediately if I felt myself getting anxious.

  • ensuring you are getting enough sleep, are eating well and getting enough exercise. All these give you the energy you need to make a different choice about the way you react.;
  • consider using the emotional energy you experience for something positive – i.e. use it to motivate yourself

Third element – Motivation

This refers to our drive to achieve and improve our commitment to our goals, our readiness to act on opportunities and our overall optimism.

You can channel this by:-

  • developing personal goals, which should be relevant, excite you but also be realistic and achievable;
  • thinking positively and seeing setbacks as learning opportunities;
  • pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone;
  • asking for help if you need it (e.g. from a Coach)
  • looking at the books by Martin Seligman, the father of the positive psychology movement.

Next week I will outline the final elements of the Daniel Goldman EI Model.

Blog 4

In my previous blogs (below) I have considered three of the five elements from Daniel Goldman’s EI Model. The last two to consider are Empathy and Social Skills.  These are introduced below with some ideas on how you can develop these.

Fourth Element – Empathy

This is the ability to understand other people’s emotions and to respond in an appropriate way.  This is another very important element of emotional intelligence.  Some people are naturally empathetic but if you are not, or you want to get even better at it there are a few thing you can do.

  • You can only empathise if you really listen to what others are saying.   Never interrupt and don’t concentrate on the impact of what they are saying is having on you or what you are going to say next.  Focus on what they are saying to you.
  • Demonstrate you are listening by using phrases like “I see” and “I understand” and perhaps replaying back to them what you have heard.
  • Process what they have said and consider the situation from their point of view and how they might be feeling before you respond. You can encourage people to want to speak to you by being accessible, approachable, open and sharing similar experiences with them.

Fifth Element – Social Skills

This is the last element of the Daniel Goldman model and draws on all of the previous elements.  It means the ability to handle and influence other people’s emotions.  It covers things like meeting new people, building relationships, managing conflict and dealing with change.

Because there are a lot of elements, concentrate on improving them one at a time.   To make improvements observe someone who is good at it and practice doing it yourself outside of your normal group of interactions e.g. in networking events rather than with your colleagues.  Concentrate on things like your body language, tone of voice and eye contact.

Even if you are fed up, avoid complaining and negativity because this gives a very bad impression to others.  Instead concentrate on the facts of a situation, look for constructive solutions and implement them.  Avoid being overly critical.

If making improvements to your emotional intelligence on your own feels a bit overwhelming consider working with a Coach or Mentor who can help you make the changes you want to.   Working with a coach helped me to recognise that there was room for improvement in my self regulation and I am much better at managing my emotions as a result.  This is why I became a coach so that I can help other people in the same situation as I was. Don’t let a lack of Emotional Intelligence hold you back, make some changes and astound yourself and your colleagues!