Not too long ago, I wrote an article regarding women in the workplace. I wrote how although women are entering the workforce at a higher rate than ever before, not nearly as many are ascending the ranks into leadership positions.
Basically we get our foot in the door, but yet we’re still not being asked to sit at the table.
In the same way, younger executives who are extremely smart, passionate, come from great universities, and are effective in their positions, plateau at some point in a similar way that women do. This made me think: could women and young executives struggle with similar obstacles in the workplace?
There seems to be a disconnect between being efficient and being a great leader. Being efficient makes you a great employee, being a great leader makes you CEO.
In my article about women in the workplace i stated how it was interesting to me that women seemed to be great at solving problems and preventing future conflict, yet for some reason their work was largely overshadowed or invisible against the primary goals of the organization. They do the work and yet get none of the credit.
The Same thing happens for the young and the intelligent, gender aside. In a similar way, younger executives and women make great assistants to the boss, but rarely become the boss. Why?
It Could be their Emotional Intelligence or Emotional IQ.
Emotional Intelligence does not mean that you can have stupid emotions or can experience emotions better than someone else. Emotional Intelligence involves being able to manage and process emotions in a way that coincide with your goals; it also involves being able to assess your emotions objectively.
In other words, if you can experience an emotion and yet still think just as clearly, if you can effectively work through an emotion without being affected by your experience of it, you have emotional intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is one of the hallmarks of great leaders.
It has been proven that younger executives have lower levels of emotional intelligence, as it’s just one of those things we just naturally get better at over time. I believe women struggle with this as well, since "going with the flow" emotionally fits neatly with our experience as caretakers, moms, wives and heads of households. Here we're okay with our emotions driving us, they usually tell us how well we're doing in these positions.
In every aspect of a woman’s life (except work I guess) letting emotions, and intuition guide her isn’t usually a bad thing. We find crying more acceptable from a woman, we expect mood swings from women, and in our society women are generally allowed to be more emotionally fragile than men.
However, have you ever heard of an emotionally fragile leader? You probably haven’t because good leaders are good leaders because they can effectively manage their emotions and then they pass that on to their subordinates.
The mood of a leader spreads to his team like a disease. It’s actually been proven.
In fact, It has been proven that “the higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more emotional intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for his/her effectiveness”. In other words, the higher you move up in the ranks, the more your emotional intelligence will determine your success.
Emotional intelligence has been proven to be twice as important in senior executive positions over IQ and technical skills.So, you might get to a certain position off of sheer intelligence and wit, get promoted, and find that you’re completely ineffective at a slightly higher position.
So what does that mean for us?
Understanding emotional intelligence is the first step to taking control of your own emotional IQ. Daniel Goleman, author of “What Makes a Leader” breaks down the five skills one can improve on to become a more effective leader:
Self awareness: understanding and realistically assessing your own strengths and weaknesses and its impact on those around you.
Self Regulation: controlling your disruptive impulses and moods.
Motivation: enjoying achievement just for it’s own sake. For example, being happy about a job well done because it was well done, not because it made you money.
Empathy: understanding and identifying the emotions and emotional tendencies of those around you.
Social Skill: building relationships in a way that moves people in a certain direction.
If you can gain support for desired goals, motivate people to work together effectively and persuade others to your side without much resistance you have high social IQ.
Ok, so I’m not saying you’re going to lose your job if you cry one day because your boss is being a dick. I’m also not saying women are more likely to cry on the job.
What I’m saying is the skills that make us great leaders are skills that aren’t usually fostered in girls, in fact low emotional IQ is even expected from women in our society.
But regardless of how acceptable low emotional IQ is for ladies, it’s not doing our paychecks any favors. Little improvements in those five areas can really mean the difference between the cubicle and the corner office.
Sources (For Further Research)
Goleman, Daniel. "What makes a leader?" Harvard Business Review- On Emotional Intelligence (n.d.): 1-21
Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. "Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence". Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press 2002. Journal of Organizational Change Management 16.1 (2003): 123-26. Print.
Bunker, Kerry A., Kathy E. Kram, and Sharon Ting. "The Young and the Clueless." On Emotional Intelligence (Harvard Business Review Press): 141-50. Print.