Which Q Really Matters?

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By Melissa Davies, Wise Ways Consulting

May, the season of sprouting flowers and sprouting graduates. Across the county, families are celebrating their kindergartners, elementary, and middle school students moving on to the next level, and their high school and college graduates. It’s wonderful to have so many in-person celebrations this year.

Graduation is a milestone event where for some it’s a step toward something bigger, and for some college graduates, a fearful step into the unknown.

The ingredient for success, fertilizer If we look at the transition like spring flowers, is what I call “Q.”

Q is my short-hand for IQ and the even more powerful Q, EQ – Emotional intelligence. One way we make predictions about potential success is through IQ, intelligence testing. First developed in the early 1900s, these tests have become standard tools for the military, school placement, and human resource departments. But what do these tests measure or really predict? If you took the SAT as part of your college entrance application, and didn’t do well, but still graduated with top honors from a university, you’ve experienced first-hand that human intelligence cannot and should not be bound by a number.

What is EQ?

There are three major models of Emotional Intelligence; within my work, I utilize that of Reuven Bar-On and his EQ-I 2.0 model. The Bar-On model describes EQ as an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and behaviors that impact intelligent behavior.  There are five composites of Emotional Intelligence that make up Bar-On’s EQ-I 2.0 model.

  • Self-perception
  • Self-expression
  • Interpersonal
  • Decision making
  • Stress management.

Arguably, the most important for successful leadership (and life) is interpersonal skills. Healthy engagement with these proficiencies allows you to understand, connect, and relate better with others and become more successful in positions that require social connection and esprit de corps.

We’ve seen in the workplace, in school settings, and even out for walks in our community, that as a society, we’re struggling with social connections. Two years of isolation, lack of face-to-face communication, and the need to negotiate “others” from merging onto I-66 and waiting in line at Wegmans have left us short-tempered, fearful, and confused. Students have lost the ability to take turns and tie their shoes. Adults have lost the art of chit-chat. How are you? I’m doing pretty well, thanks for asking. Even the split-second decision to shake someone’s hand or elbow bump in greeting has left us perplexed.

EQ is important in life. Many leaders bristle at the use of the term empathy. Some find it difficult to care about things outside of the production of work.  Pre-COVID, I was working with a mid-level manager as his executive coach.  He had been identified in the organization as someone who had all the technical knowledge in the world as well as much potential for advancement.  Unfortunately, he was not working well with his current team.  We were speaking about his team one day and he said, “I’m just tired of it!  Don’t bother bringing your hormones and emotions to the office!  We’re here to work and get things done and not pander to your ‘stuff’.”  When I asked him what he thought the impact was on his team, he was silent.  “I never thought about that.  Does it matter?”  After a few deeper questions, he was able to identify ways that it hindered both individual performance as well as the team’s ability to accomplish the organization’s mission.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

You hear the term company culture thrown around frequently in modern organizations. And lately the breakdown of culture and struggles of the post-pandemic workforce. This is the environment our graduates are entering.

The greatest gift we can give anyone this year is our attention, our patience, and some kindness. And at the same time, don’t forget to model positive behavior. How we show up everyday matters. How we help our newly minted graduates learn to tie their shoes and learn to navigate the complex social structures of their first jobs matters for the future of our society.

That sounds like a tall order, and it is. We all must care – and that’s EQ.

Melissa Davies is an executive leadership coach and facilitator as well as the author of How Not to Act Like a BLEEP at Work.  She resides in Prince William County and is the owner of Wise Ways Consulting, which specializes in leadership, management and team development, executive coaching, group facilitation and high-engagement training.  She can be reached at info@wisewaysconsulting.com or through wisewaysconsulting.com.


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