Article originally published in In-Procurement Magazine (UK), December 2016
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have an unlimited amount of success in both their personal and professional lives and even more than that everyone seems to “like” them!? Could it be that the X factor really does exist or is it that they possess high emotional intelligence? There have been many debates on the subject of EQ and I am hearing it more and more when I talk to procurement professionals looking for talent for their organisations, technical skills and IQ are a given….now everyone MUST HAVE EQ – Emotional Intelligence Which leads me to my questions “What is EQ and where do we get some?” According to the experts (Psychology Today): “Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” This usually involves:
- Emotional awareness, which includes the ability to identify your own emotions as well as those of others;
- The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks such as problem solving;
- The ability to manage your emotions, such as being able to calm down when you’re upset.
So why is this important in Procurement or any role for that matter? As research is beginning to suggest intelligence (IQ) is more of an advantage when things are going well, but not necessarily as beneficial when we find ourselves swimming upstream without a paddle and more primal/emotional attributes are needed.
As Travis Bradberry reports in Quartz “Common sense would suggest that having ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. EQ, IQ and Attitude – The Three Magic Ingredients EQ, IQ and Attitude… The Three Magic Ingredients It does, but only while the going is easy” Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ. Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.
So in this world of constant change…is EQ the new IQ? A 40 year study of University of California at Berkeley doctorate -degree holders, found that person’s EI was four times more likely than their IQ to predict who would achieve success in their field of work. So do we all need to jump onto the bandwagon and get on an EI course? Well not necessarily, I think before we all jump the gun we need to embrace technical ability and IQ and then if we are looking at hiring someone new or offering someone a promotion look first at if the role requires EQ, there is no point hiring an EQ guru to sit in an office and never interact with the outside world! Also we need to be very careful as said by John Mayer, University of New Hampshire psychologist, “people with different goals and personalities will express emotional intelligence differently. For example achievement focused people will use EI to get ahead, relationship focused people will use it to maintain and improve relationships” So let’s think about what qualities people with a high EQ share?
- They are not perfect – being a perfectionist can get in the way of achieving goals, they can be constantly looking for the perfect answer, perfect numbers, perfect person when this really doesn’t exist. They learn to move on and “let go” if a mistake is made they adapt and learn from it.
- They understand work / life balance – we all know that looking after yourself and not putting unnecessary stress on ourselves will improve our health and wellbeing but few of us actually do it. People with high EQ take a break , they know how to disconnect from the world when needed because less unnecessary stress means more success.
- They embrace change – this to me is one of the most important factors in today’s ever changing world. The business world has never changed at such rapid speed and Procurement will be left behind if such change is not embraced. Don’t be afraid, Procurement should be the chameleons of the office ready to adapt in any given situation.
- They are empathetic – Psychologist Daniel Goleman, suggests empathy is one of the five components of emotional intelligence. In fact, being able to relate to others, show compassion, and take the time to help someone are all crucial components of EI. Additionally, being empathic makes people with EI curious about other people and and leads them to ask lots of questions whenever they meet someone new. Is this not Procurements role in an organisation to help the business and ask lots of questions?
- They know their strengths and weaknesses – They know what they are good at and what they are not so good at,but instead of accepting this they leverage their strengths and weaknesses by working with the right people in the right situations.
- They are self–starters –being ambitious and hard working right from the get go from a young age are all signs of high EQ
- They can let go – they don’t dwell on the past, they are too busy creating the opportunities of tomorrow. There are countless highly successful people who have failed, Oprah Winfrey, Henry Ford, Walt Disney to name a few have all been knocked back, but instead of feeling helpless and searching for answers they let go and bounced back. Failure can be the biggest success you ever have! Don’t hold grudges, don’t dwell on the negative both only cause you more stress and block your vision of the future.
- Focus on the positives – This seems obvious but we have all sat in meetings when someone keeps harping on about the past mistake, issues, complaining about negative situations rather than focusing their energy on how to solve the problem, what do you have control over?
- They don’t get easily distracted – they have the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and prioritise, they don’t get distracted by a random email.
- They set boundaries – people with a high EQ usually are very compassionate so they seem like a pushover BUT they actually very politely set boundaries and expectations, if not they will soon burn out, so they learn how to say no…nicely!
So what can you do to improve your EQ? This is a question I don’t get asked enough- which to me means we are not self-aware enough to realise we need to ask the question! In summary in order to build some of the above traits there are 3 key ingredients for success which I believe also come down to attitude, to improve EQ :
BE PASSIONATE what you lack in IQ you can certainly make up for in passion. Empowered people are relentless they never give up on their passions. There will always be a smarter person than you but they may not have your motivation and drive, passion is what drives people to excellence. Passion is also infectious, try sitting in a room with someone who is passionate about what they are talking about and try to not get excited….they have a way of drawing you in.
STOP BEING THE VICTIM stop complaining about the issues, stop dwelling on the past, in order to be successful, you need to be willing to fail hard and then bounce right back.
GO THE EXTRA MILE – take action, focus your energy, be flexible in your approach and go that one step further to help, push your limits. If you aren’t getting a little bit better each day, then you’re most likely getting a little worse—and what kind of life is that?