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Saturday, June 19, 2021

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5 Ways Leaders Can Develop Emotional Intelligence

We were all fooled growing up in grade school.

In your early years between the ages of 5 and 8, if your parents wanted to know whether you were considered ‘gifted’, you were given an Intelligence Quotient Test.

Your score was, and still is, believed to be a valid indicator of your intelligence, and there for your success. It is designed to help your parents quickly identify your abilities, in order to place you into the appropriate learning orientations and classes.

‘Wait, what? You’re telling me that my success was pre-determined when I was 5 years old?’

Not exactly, but it’s the beginning of you being conditioned to believe that.

As you grew older and progressed through the grade school, the consistent markers for your success were also your grades on standardized tests and subjects.

The older you grew, the more value was placed on how well you did on tests, and the more belittled you were by your teachers and classmates for scoring poorly.

Not only did you have to pass tests in your subjects, but every state has an overall exit exam for elementary, middle school, and high school.

And then your intelligence is judged as a predictor for your success in college by the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Testing (ACT), with ‘prestigious’ schools not even giving your application a look for any score deemed below above average.

And yet, once you have reached the pinnacle of education with the almighty college degree you have memorized so hard for, you come to find out that grades and degrees were never a realistic marker for your success after all.

The Disconnect Between Adolescence and Adult Learning

As an adult, your success is judged by your behaviors and you learn through your life experiences.

So as kids and adolescents, we are taught with pedagogy, or teaching us content, but as adults we learn with andragogy, or content teaching us.

No wonder a survey conducted by McGraw-Hill Future Workforce in 2018 found that only 4 out of 10 felt “very” or “extremely” prepared for their future careers. Keep in mind, their survey answers are still coming from a very naive understanding of what is to come.

Or in 2020, where 45% of college graduates are still looking for work according to a survey from career website Monster, with them conditioned to believe the only route to a successful life is working for someone else.

Ok, ok, my cynicism is coming out, so let me direct you back to the point.

The Gold Star Reward Method

Think back to your preschool and kindergarten years, how was your success measured?

The typical go-to was gold stars on a board, right?

And what were gold stars for? Grades?

No, you were given a gold star for good behavior.

Sharing your toys with another kid in your class, being on time for school, not throwing a fit when you don’t get your way, showing kindness to another student during conflict.

Isn’t it ironic, that once you graduate college and start your career, your success is judged, and even hinges on the exact same thing?

Sharing your ideas for further innovation to serve the world, being on time for work, managing stress and anxiety when you’re having a bad day, being empathetic with you co-workers, even when you disagree.

These are all success markers of a different kind of intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Now being regarded as more important than IQ as the determining factor for your desired success, EQ is something that some of us have a natural gift for, and some of us do not, but because of our childhood and adolescence conditioning, all of us need to do the work to develop.

And it is the missing link that you have been searching for if you feel stuck in complacency and frustrated with your current results.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

EQ is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

There are five gold stars for EQ, placed in descending order below from what I have observed, experienced, and educated to be the typical natural developmental process.

  1. Internal motivation. A person with a high EQ is self-motivated and pursues their personal and professional goals for their own development. They are not necessarily motivated by external validators like praise, money or titles.
  2. Self-awareness. A person with high self-awareness means you understand your strengths, weaknesses, moods and emotions. Furthermore, a self-aware person understands how the subconscious mind and conscious mind interact and work to align the two towards their intended habits and goals.
  3. Self-regulation. A person who can effectively self-regulate is someone who consciously thinks before acting and rarely reacts with impulsivity based on their emotions alone, understanding how their actions will affect the people around them.
  4. Empathy. An empathetic person is someone who can easily recognize and understand other people’s emotions by conceptualizing their experience as their own. This allows them to respond in a more aligned way with what the person needs to grow from their experience.
  5. People skills. A person with high EQ actively works on developing their people skills and is skilled at networking and building relationships. Relationships are built on strong, non-competitive bonds with mutual trust and respect.

These areas are crucial to develop for high pressure leadership roles, such as executives and management, as stress and anxiety are the main blocks for peak performance in the high-demanding positions.

The success of entrepreneurs also hinges on their ability to develop EQ in order to work with passion, and unshakeable belief in the success of their vision and desired impact.

What Can You Do Right Now to Develop Your EQ?

There is comprehensive work that needs to be done to develop highly effective EQ, but to get started in the right direction, I have found there are five essential beliefs to pivot in your mindset that can act as windows into a deeper understanding.

  1. Take 100% ownership for your life. Blame, excuses, and passing responsibility of your results and actions to someone, or something else is playing the victim role and that will always block you from seeing the truth you need to grow personally and professionally.
  2. You are whole and complete. A controversial statement for high performers, who tend to be motivated by what they perceive to lack, rather what they stand to gain. But this belief stimulates an unshakeable belief in yourself, something that I know now to be priceless in your journey to success.
  3. Work without attachment to the outcome. Perfectionism is a common mindset problem of high performers. This causes you to overly focus your emotions on your desired outcome which typically stimulates stress and anxiety. In turn, there emotional distress indicators block clear and creative thinking and increase the likelihood of self-sabotaging destructive patterns to reappear. When you work without emotional attachment to the outcome, your desired outcome is more likely to happen. Stew on that perfectionist.
  4.  The only way out is through. Avoiding your problems and past traumas will only result in them continuing to result in unwanted behaviors in your present. You can’t hide from them, or compartmentalize into oblivion, because you are storing them into your subconscious mind which computes one million times faster than your conscious mind and responsible for your self-sabotaging patterns. If you want to consistently show up with your actions aligned with your conscious intentions, you must go directly to the source of your pain.
  5.  Never take anything personally, ever. This one is self-explanatory, but let me open the window to how this will develop your EQ. When you work to become self-aware of your own patterns and projections, it helps you recognize those in other people. This is developing empathy and gives you a deeper understanding that the person’s destructive behaviors are just a projection and protection of that person’s insecurities. Even if the behavior is intended to be malicious towards you, how can you take it personally with this type of understanding?

A Bonus Belief to Stimulate Action Right Now

A bonus belief to adopt when reading this to help you discover your truth within; What you resist, will persist. You may not choose to believe you need this now, but until you take the time to develop your EQ, you will continue to be confronted with the same opportunity to do so.

Because I imagine you’re like me.

A high performer who’s good at almost everything, climbing a mountain with a 50-pound backpack. As the altitude rises the air gets thinner, you become wearier. The tools you started the climb with can no longer serve your desire to reach the peak, and they haven’t for some time.

It’s time to stop, set down the backpack, unload tools that got you to this point, and load up on more advanced tools to finish the climb.


Written by Zack Blakeney. Have you read?
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Zack Blakeney
Zack Blakeney is a peak performance coach and speaker who empowers entrepreneurs to balance their physical and emotional health while upholding high standards of business excellence. His P.O.W.E.R. method has guided hundreds of his clients to gain more power, passion, and profits, ultimately leading to their long term success. After struggling most of his young entrepreneurial career with addiction, destructive habits, and misalignment, he is called to serve entrepreneurs who are walking a similar path, while so desperately seeking clarity and unshakeable belief in their vision. You can see the details of his program HERE. Zack Blakeney is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.