“Emotional intelligence”, or EQ, has become a popular buzzword in business recently.
What does emotional intelligence mean? I guess you could call it a fancy term for what we used to know as “soft skills”.
Buzzwords seem to turn up in every pursuit employing a unique skill set. People love to throw them around, because it makes them sound smart, or hip. Business leadership qualifies as one of those pursuits, for sure.
As a great believer in clarity in communication, I recently found this article by David Finkel. He adds some meaning to “emotional intelligence” by describing important aspects of it possessed by effective leaders.
David lists these traits as consideration for inviting someone to your executive team:
- Team-building skills
- Ability to motivate and inspire
- Self-awareness and self-management
- Social intelligence
- Communication skills
- Skill in navigating differences
A few comments of mine here, to add to David's more thorough descriptions of these traits:
These skills are all important and they are all linked.
Teamwork happens only in an environment of communication and motivation/inspiration. Is your organization is of a size such that you're considering an executive team? If so, great teamwork is vital to your success. (It is in every organization, and even more so as you scale up.)
Communication is vital to everything else. Here's an extreme example of the importance of communication:
Think of a left-brained expert with many technical skills. That person must be able to communicate the value of his/her skills. Otherwise, those skills aren't very valuable.
In order to have social intelligence (why people behave as they do), you must be self-aware. Why do you behave as you do?
Self-management is about controlling your own tendencies which may be inappropriate in certain situations. This too is an important skill.
Navigating differences (gender, culture, opinions, etc) is vital to the health of any organization. David suggests that exhibition of these traits should be prerequisite to inviting anyone to your executive team. Alternatively, more coaching may get someone qualified. I agree.
If you're building an executive team, or coaching someone who is, Finkel's list is a great guide. Of course there probably are other things to consider in your particular situation. However, This list provides a great basis for any executive group. Add to it to meet your unique needs.