HAVE YOU CONSIDERED? EQ – Just a Fad?

Q Whenever I pick up management magazine or book, or look at an advert for management courses I constantly see and hear references to “emotional intelligence”. Isn’t it just buzzword?

A Yes, emotional intelligence is definitely very popular at the moment and there is wide range of courses and books on the subject. Your question asks if there is something real behind the words “emotional intelligence”, or if it is just fad.
Emotional intelligence became popular few years ago through the publication of book on the subject by Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ.
IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is measure of mental ability and is often used as way of getting fix on how well person uses their brain. It measures things such as the ability to make mathematical calculations, use memory and vocabulary. When the individual results for person are compared with range of results covering wide population it can give sense of the level of person’s ability to do these things.
IQ does not measure “intelligence” as this is made up of many things and doesn’t just relate to how well you can think. For example, it also covers how well you can apply your thinking ability.
A low level of emotional intelligence can get in the way of high IQ rating and make you less effective – this explains the subtitle of Daniel Goleman’s book.
Emotional intelligence is the capacity for effectively recognising and managing your emotions, and to some extent those of others. Measuring emotional intelligence is an attempt to identify the behavioural tendencies that may be triggered by your feelings.
Research shows that awareness of your own and others’ feelings can assist in managing your behaviour in ways that help you work more effectively with others. If your emotional response is strong and ineffective it can reduce your effectiveness. If you are aware of this then you are more able to manage your response and increase effectiveness. high IQ is not everything.
This knowledge has led to current focus in leadership and management development on self-awareness – awareness of how you are thinking and responding to what is going on around you.
Emotional intelligence is currently fashionable concept but underneath it lie some simple lessons that can increase your value as leader and manager.

Q I manage company employing 650 people and located in three different geographic locations in New Zealand. I often receive complaints that there isn’t enough “communication”. What can I do to improve this?

A I once carried out survey in large organisation to identify the key information people wanted to have. Managers wanted people to know what the global vision and strategy of the organisation was and how it was performing, whereas the majority of employees wanted to know more about local issues affecting them.
There are two drivers for communication in an organisation. The first is to ensure people understand why they are there, what they are aiming for, and how well they and the organisation are doing. The second though is to communicate well on local issues, and especially on anything to do with change.
Job descriptions, agreeing personal objectives, and regular performance review meetings go long way to laying the foundation for good communication in any organisation. Have you considered how well these tools are working in your organisation?
The concept of the ‘team brief’ works very well, especially in geographically spread organisation, when it is applied in straightforward and disciplined manner. Team brief is process where senior managers prepare short one or two-page brief with simple bullet points explaining key issues about the direction and performance of the organisation. For example, it can be timed with the outcome of the monthly board meeting. This information is then communicated downwards in the organisation by each successive layer of managers to their teams. As the information moves through the organisation each layer of management adds its own local information as appropriate.
An important issue with effective internal communication is to make the content of both strategic and business plans readily available. I am often surprised at how these can be kept hidden from staff. You don’t need to print off the plans and give them to everyone. It is effective to produce simple and interesting summaries, and this is where an intranet becomes very powerful tool. Do you make your plans widely available to your people?
Finally managers often assume that increasing the levels of effective communication will add cost. This is not necessarily so. One of the most effective ways of communicating key issues quickly in an organisation is for the leaders to be seen regularly talking about the issues. It may be helpful for you to think through how well you and your management team do this.

• Kevin Gaunt, FNZIM, FAIM, is CEO of NZIM Auckland and has been senior executive with, and consultant to, some of New Zealand’s largest companies.

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