Test Your Emotional Intelligence

The purpose of this exercise is to help you understand how emotional intelligence (E.I.) comes into play in organizational settings and to give you a tool to assess your E.I. competence. The more truthfully you answer, the more accurate the picture you will get of your E.I. If you are interested in further testing and developing your E.I., check out www.eiconsortium.org, the online home of The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.

These questions have been adapted for CIOs’ work situations from two sources: an online survey by the Hay Group, and an article, "Developing Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace," by Wendy Alfus Rothman in a newsletter for career counselors called The Five O’Clock News. -M.L.

  • You’re in a meeting in which executives are discussing the company’s ERP implementation when the VP of supply chain takes credit for work you did. What do you do?
    • Confront the VP right then and there. After all, you’re no pushover, and it’s not fair that he get the credit you deserve.
    • After the meeting, take the VP aside and tell him that you would appreciate it if in the future he would credit you when speaking about the work.
    • You don’t do anything. You hate conflict, and you know nothing would be gained either by making a scene or by confronting the VP.
    • After the VP speaks, thank him for the work he did and give the group more specific details about what you were trying to accomplish and the challenges you overcame.
  • The VP of marketing has just called to complain about the CRM system your IT staff is delivering. He is angry and rude. What’s your response?
    • Tell him to take a long walk off a short pier. You don’t have to put up with ill-informed nonsense.
    • Listen, repeat back to him what you hear he is feeling, and tell him you sympathize.
    • Explain how he’s being unfair. Help him understand that the system your department is working so hard on eventually will help him and his department.
    • Tell him you understand how frustrated his is, and offer a specific measure you can take to please him.
  • Your company is working to encourage respect for racial and ethnic diversity. What do you do when you overhear someone making anti-Semitic comments about Sen. Joe Lieberman?
    • Ignore it. Heck, you can’t stand the Connecticut Democrat either.
    • Call the person into your office and explain that his behavior is inappropriate and is grounds for disciplinary action if repeated.
    • Confront the person on the spot, saying that such comments are disrespectful, inappropriate and won’t be tolerated in the company.
    • Suggest to the person making the comments that he take a diversity training program or recommend that he read Jean-Paul Sartre’s essay "Portrait of the Anti-Semite."
  • A colleague enters your office upset over an incendiary e-mail he received from a client. How do you go about calming him down?
    • Change the subject. Tell him a joke or a story?anything to get his mind off of it.
    • Suggest that he might be overreacting.
    • Take him out for a cup of coffee and tell him about the time something like this happened to you and how angry you felt, until you realized that the client’s anger was in fact justified.
    • Tell him you understand. You know that the client is a real jerk.
  • A discussion with a colleague has escalated into a full-blown argument, and you both start trading personal insults that you certainly don’t mean. What do you do?
    • Suggest taking a 20 minute break before continuing.
    • Walk away.
    • Apologize, and ask that your colleague apologize too.
    • Pause, collect your thoughts, then restate your case as unemotionally as you can.
  • You are asked to manage a team of developers that is building a new portal. The team has discovered a software bug but can’t come up with a solution. What do you do?
    • Draw up an agenda, and call a meeting during which you discuss the problem and possible solutions.
    • Organize an offsite to help the team get to know each other better.
    • Begin by asking each person for ideas about how to solve the problem.
    • Organize an informal brainstorming session over lunch. Encourage people to share whatever solution comes to mind, no matter how wild.
  • One of your programmers has been promoted to a managerial position. You notice that she appears unable to make the simplest decisions without seeking your advice. What do you do?
    • Have an HR representative talk with her about where she sees her future in the organization. Maybe this position isn’t right for her.
    • Accept the fact that she does not have what it takes and find others to assume her responsibilities until you can find a replacement.
    • Give her lots of difficult, complex decisions to make so that she will become more confident in her role.
    • Engineer an ongoing series of manageable experiences for her, and make yourself available to act as her mentor.
  • One of your direct reports approaches you with a personal problem: His elderly parent needs care and possibly placement in a nursing home. What do you do?
    • Tell him that you’re sorry and that he can come to you for advice or to commiserate anytime.
    • Acknowledge that family problems often take a toll, and ask him to be open with you if he’s having trouble completing his work so that you can find a way to lighten his load during this difficult time.
    • Suggest that work affords an excellent opportunity for him to take a mental break from his problems.
    • Tell him that the definition of a professional is someone who doesn’t allow his personal problems to affect his work.

Scoring the Quiz

0-24: Emotional Dunce

Congratulations, you’re about as emotionally intelligent as a milk carton and as approachable as a Komodo dragon. You confront people in the wrong way about the wrong things at the wrong times (for example, publicly accusing someone of taking credit for your ideas) and fail to confront them on the appropriate things (like racist jokes). Your haste to kiss off colleagues and their concerns alienates you from others and jeopardizes your professional relationships. Unless you get some coaching, it won’t be long before your emotional density derails your career.

25-54: Lukewarm

You get points for recognizing your own difficulty in dealing with people’s personal issues, but as a manager and executive it’s part of your job to confront life’s little messes. You don’t have to be Abigail Van Buren or Ann Landers, but you should know how to tactfully handle conflicts with customers and colleagues. And while you may have the best intentions with the young manager who constantly seeks your advice, you’re not rising to the challenge by passing the buck to HR.

55-75: The Perfect Boss

Your colleagues and direct reports surely find you approachable and responsive. Just be careful you don’t go overboard. Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t mean you have to be Oprah, doling out advice and commiserating over every drama or crisis. It means recognizing how people’s emotions affect them, understanding why they feel a certain way and harnessing those emotions for the benefit of the organization.

Answer Key

1 A. 0 points B. 5 points C. 0 points D. 10 points

2 A. 0 points B. 5 points C. 0 points D. 10 points

3 A. 0 points B. 5 points C. 5 points D. 5 points

4 A. 5 points B. 0 points C. 10 points D. 0 points

5 A. 10 points B. 0 points C. 0 points D. 0 points

6 A. 1 point B. 10 points C. 5 points D. 5 points

7 A. 5 points B. 0 points C. 0 points D. 10 points

8 A. 1 point B. 10 points C. 0 points D. 0 points

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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