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Executives need industry experience, IQ and EI; but EI is the vital factor.

Much has been written about emotional intelligence. The phrase “Emotional Intelligence” was first made popular by Daniel Goleman, although the term itself dates back to 1964 in Michael Beldoch’s work.

So how vital is it for executive performance?

Researchers at Harvard University have an answer. With low EI but a lot of industry experience and a high IQ, people have a high failure rate (25%) at the executive level.

On the other hand, with high EI and at least one of the other two factors (industry experience and IQ), the failure rate shrinks to only 4%. These statistics are backed by executive recruiters. They prefer candidates for the top jobs with fully-developed EI.

But emotional intelligence is not a cure-all. The point is: balance. An effective executive needs both IQ and EQ; but ignoring emotions is a costly mistake.

How to expand your Emotional Intelligence
There are many ways to do this. Here are three ways to get you started. At the end of the day, find a few minutes to reflect in one of these three ways:

#1 Analyse Tthe FAFF Group
Take a situation from today that you feel/felt uncomfortable with. Replay it. Then analyse four groups: the facts, assumptions, fantasies and feelings that surfaced. How did each shape your thinking? Which grouped influenced you the most at that time?

#2 Take your Emotional Temperature
If something or somebody has annoyed you today, bring back the emotions you were feeling earlier in the day. How strong are they now? Which emotions disappear or seem less important? Which emotions stay with you, even hours later? How does this affect your judgement and the quality of your decisions?

#3 Identify your Historical Emotional Drivers
Having reflected a few times, what patterns do you recognise? What are the emotions that come up again and again? How do these repetitive patterns drive your behaviour? Do they make a positive or negative difference to your performance? How does this affect the performance of your direct reports and your business unit?

These exercises are not about “finding an answer”. Sometimes reflection brings up multiple emotions and more confusion, not less. But over time, as you become more aware of your emotions you can predict in which situations you need to be switched on to be more successful.

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