Why Improving Emotional IQs Makes for Better IT Leaders

Hiring and retaining talent is becoming a priority as CIOs struggle to find and retain top talent. Raising the emotional IQ of your IT leaders is one big step towards creating a culture where people want to work.

In 1995, author Daniel Goleman released his best-selling book, "Emotional Intelligence." In it he argued that noncognitive skills could be as, or more, important than IQ. Additional research confirmed that people with the highest IQs outperform those with average IQs a only 20 percent of the time.

Even more interesting was data that reported people with average IQs outperformed those with the highest IQs a stunning 70 percent of the time. This fact illustrates how the smartest person in the room isn't necessarily the best person to lead and manage your development teams or your IT department. "The EQ [emotional IQ] of managers is particularly significant in the IT world. Keeping skilled workers is critical and the data suggests the EQ of the leader affects retention," says Adele B. Lynn , founder and owner of The Adele Lynn Leadership Group.

Whether you're talking about yourself or the managers who lead your teams, emotional intelligence is key to getting the most out of your -- many times -- under-staffed tech departments as well as retaining your human capital investment as long as possible. In fact in a recent, Harvard Review Blog post, Muriel Wilkins wrote, "The data showing that emotional intelligence is a key differentiator between star performers and the rest of the pack is irrefutable. Nevertheless, there are some who never embrace the skill for themselves -- or who wait until it's too late."

What Is EQ and Why Should I Care?

It seems at first difficult to quantify. In their book "Emotional Intelligence 2.0," Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves define it as such, "Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships."

Why is this important to you? Because your IT and technology managers are a key part of your execution and retention strategies; those with a higher emotional intelligence will deliver better results in areas like team leadership, influencing people, organizational awareness, self-confidence and overall leadership.

The good news, says Angela Yochem, CIO of BDP International is that, "The great thing about the technology field is that it attracts intelligent, passionate, interesting people, and I believe that, in general, the same openness to new ideas that attracts people to technology brings motivation, integrity, and comfort with change - all elements of high EQ."

5 Components of Emotional Intelligence

There are different schools of thought on what comprises emotional IQ, but according to research done by The Adele Lynn Leadership Group, five components make up what we consider emotional intelligence.

Self-awareness and control

  1. Empathy
  2. Social Expertness
    This includes social bonds, collaboration, organizational savvy, and conflict resolution.
  3. Influence Of Self
    This includes competencies such as resilience, goal setting, optimism and flexibility
  4. Of Others
    This includes competencies such as Leading others, creating positive climate, and getting results from others.)
  5. 5. Mastery of Purpose
    This includes competencies such as understanding one's purpose and values and taking actions to live one's purpose and authenticity.
emotional intelligence adele lynn leadership Adele B. Lynn

Do I Need to Work on My Emotional Intelligence?

The short answer is yes. Experts agree that as a manager, the more you understand your employees motivations, career paths, and personality strengths and weaknesses the better you can allot your resources and help them grow. If you're really good, you can help those coworkers or subordinates work from their strengths while showing them a path to build on their areas of weakness.

When an employee has a good relationship with his supervisor and that person is actively interested in their feelings, ideas and career progression it becomes much more difficult for employees to jump ship. Here are four questions to ponder:

  • Do you find yourself on the defense more than not?
  • Are you indifferent or disinterested in what coworkers or subordinates think of you or what interests them?
  • Do you accept accountability or do you regularly push blame off onto others?
  • Do you have difficulties empathizing with your employees or coworkers?

If you answered yes to any of these, then chances are you need to improve your emotional intelligence.

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