Emotional Intelligence is one of the most important success factors for any professional. It’s having the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and handling interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. It impacts how you address situations and what impact you have on other’s feelings.

According to the authors of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves, “when emotional intelligence was first discovered, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with the highest levels of intelligence (IQ) outperform those with average IQs just 20 percent of the time, while people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70 percent of the time.” What accounts for the major gap here? According to the authors, “years of research and countless studies pointed to emotional intelligence as the critical factor.”

For the marketing industry, it is essential to have a high emotional IQ because you’re looking to persuade prospects and customers into engaging with you and your products or services.  As a marketer, you must understand the impact your message has on your prospects and customers and provide an experience that speaks to both their hearts and minds. You can’t achieve this without emotional intelligence.

Emotional IQ Can be Improved

Unlike the other two areas that support your personal and professional success, IQ & personality, EQ is like a muscle that can be strengthened — but just like having a fitness regimen, you first have to identify where your ‘problem areas’ are and make a plan on how to achieve your goals.

As an extrovert, my instinct in most conversations was to engage and speak before listening immediately. I’ve learned that I gain significantly more insight if I sit back and allow others to speak. Listening is just as, if not more, essential to growth and success. For marketing leaders who are unsure of where their current emotional IQ stands, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0″ comes with a useful free Emotional Intelligence Appraisal® test.  I recommend all business leaders take the test and identify the areas where there is room for improvement. After taking the test myself a few years back, I have been acutely aware of and continue to work on improving the aspects where I can. 

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Emotional IQ is the Key to Being a Great Leader

The concept of leadership is to influence people to act toward a specific goal positively. You can’t achieve this if you don’t apply EQ. In order for a team to share in your pursuit to grow a business, they must be ‘bought in.’ It is the leader’s job to foster an environment where each team member can see how they are contributing to the broader mission and its purpose. Having a high EQ helps you to know what type of environment is needed for each employee to be bought in since each one is motivated differently. But for this to work, your team must have confidence that you support them and they can trust you. Know your team, have a genuine interest in your team. Their success is your success. All of the above becomes second nature when you have a high EQ

Specific Tactics for Improving EQ

By now, you know the importance of EQ, but how to achieve it tactically? Here are a few of my favorite “strength training” exercises — some short term and some long term — that can help you get there:

  • Self-management strategies: Understanding your emotions is vital to actively choose what to say or do when a situation elevates your emotions. There are things you can do every day to practice going beyond your initial emotions to start using the rational thinking part of your brain. First, understand that emotions have a deep root in the ‘fight or flight’ mode that is embedded in our psyche to help protect us from danger. Since this is so heavily ingrained into our being, it’s instinctual and happens before our rational thinking can kick in.  At first, start recapping every day to learn when or how your fight or flight mode may have led you to react before you were able to use the rational part of your brain and then graduate to identifying this in real-time.  Once you hone in on understanding what the instinctual fight or flight response feels like, you can begin to control it.
  • Happiness is a habit: You can also do something as simple as smiling to help put your mind in the right place. A smile sends signals to your brain, which helps provide positivity and perspective to situations. It may feel strange at first, but the more you smile, the more you set yourself in a more relaxed and open state of being.

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Social awareness: I rely on technology or a scribe to take notes for me in meetings so I can be fully present.  This frees you up to really listen to what is being said and also understand the reactions it has on attendees. This helps to guide the situation as needed based on the energy and emotions of the meeting. Learning how to read a room will take some time, but the quicker you start, the faster you will begin to master the ability and influence the meeting positively.