The Importance of EQ for Technology Leaders

Kathleen McQuilkin | 02.11.16
Topics: Association Management - Leadership

Your technology expertise is a recognized asset to every department in your association. You can master networks, integrations, and cybersecurity. But are you perceived as a leader? While IQs and technical capabilities are important, you won’t get far as a technology leader if you don’t recognize the importance of your emotional intelligence (EQ).

Emotional intelligence is the “ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.”

9214235312_a018437724_z.jpgThe importance of EQ for technology leaders

As association technology professionals shift from a traditional supportive and operational role to a more collaborative and strategic role, emotional intelligence becomes ever more critical. Recognizing this evolving role, IT staff must use their EQ to:

  • Make a persuasive case for organizational change.
  • Counsel and influence staff and volunteer leaders who are making technology planning, budget, and selection decisions.
  • Convince multiple parties, often at odds, to cooperate for the greater good.
  • Help colleagues implement technology and learn how to use it to achieve their business goals.

In fact, the Society for Information Management’s 2016 IT Trends Study found “a very high demand for [technology professionals] who are able to bridge the communication chasm between IT and the business.” Bridging that gap in your association requires social skills and empathy—elements of EQ.

The 5 elements of emotional intelligence (EQ)

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, identified 5 elements of emotional intelligence.

  • Self-awareness: understanding your own emotions, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Empathy: recognizing, identifying with, and understanding the perspectives, desires, and needs of others. (Read more on empathy and conflict.)
  • Self-regulation: controlling your emotions and impulses.
  • Motivation: being driven to pursue goals.
  • Social skills: being a good communicator, listener, and relationship-builder.

These so-called ‘soft skills’ help technology leaders improve relationships, build teams, and inspire change.

4 ways to improve your EQ

Emotional intelligence is fluid. Unlike your IQ, you’re not stuck with what you have; you can continue to improve your EQ. Self-awareness is the first step to improving your EQ. An interesting Harvard Business Review article identifies “some of the telltale signs that you need to work on your emotional intelligence” and provides the following four strategies for improving your EQ.

  • Solicit, listen to, and accept feedback on what you do and don’t do.
  • Be aware of the gap between the intent and the impact of your words and actions on others.
  • Instead of reacting in a knee-jerk manner, take a moment to pause, listen, and choose how you will respond to a situation.
  • Seek to understand both your agenda and the other person’s agenda so you can see a situation from both sides.

The walk-away point is a simple one: Once you understand how your behavior affects others, you can more effectively manage situations and have more impact.

Clients and partners value EQ.

We practice what we preach. Our clients tell us they highly value the responsiveness, reliability, and communication skills of our consultants—their EQ. After working with hundreds of organizations, alongside individuals with assorted roles and titles, we’ve witnessed the value of a team member’s high EQ. Individuals with a strong EQ stand out and transcend their role or title to become a leader within their organization.

Everyone expects you (and us) to have technical expertise, but you can multiply your impact on your organization with high emotional intelligence.

Just how emotionally intelligent are you?

It’s nice to have an idea of your EQ before you work to improve it, and there are myriad online tools to help you assess your EQ. I like these three online EQ quizzes because they’re relevant to technology professionals.

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