It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I mean, “emotional intelligence”? Aren’t emotion and intellect two very different things? Not anymore. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is essentially the ability to perceive, assess, manage and positively influence your own and other people’s emotions in a productive manner. By productive, I mean you ability to get results from yourself and those around you. That’s what true leadership requires. Unlike traditional measures of intelligence (or IQ), EQ means being able to separate the message from the messenger, and understanding your personal triggering mechanisms (i.e., your hot buttons) to avoid reacting emotionally to a logical comment, statement or decision.
You see most people cannot manage themselves, let alone others. One could write a whole book on EQ alone, and many already have. For our purposes, however, the keywords in the above definition all come down to learning how to “manage yourself and your emotions.” This is no easy feat, particularly in the high-paced, highly-competitive, highly-charged world of the modern corporate battlefield.
Yet “emotional management” is a skill you must learn to truly grasp the art of command. Not to become a rigid automaton for the sake of the company or your career, but to realize that as healthy as emotions can be, when not under control they can also sabotage you when you least expect it.
Consider the following very common scenario: You are faced with an unreasonable deadline to complete an already-challenging project when word comes down from high that the deadline has become doubly more unreasonable by upping the delivery date from next Monday to this Friday. Most people would become upset at this news, particularly since the reasons – as conveyed by the underling messenger – seem so arbitrary. Just as many people would “shoot the messenger,” lashing out simply to give a release to their emotions and establish they’re no pushover.
A true commander would assess the situation, realize quickly that no amount of shooting the messenger is going to change the actual message, take the message for what it is, assess it internally, sit down with a trusted team and deal with it. For professionals, the difference between IQ and EQ is recognizing your emotions but controlling them as well.