What do 90% of top performers have in common? What makes up 50% of your job performance? What separates the good managers from the bad? The answer to all of these questions is: Emotional Intelligence or EQ. It matters not only because people with high EQ make $29,000 more annually, but also because a culture built on EQ helps motivate and retain employees. IQ Inc. CEO Barbara VanKirk recently held an EQ workshop for UPMC’s Women in IT, to explain the value of EQ and what anyone can do to strengthen their emotional intelligence.
EQ has four components, self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management. Self-awareness is learning to understand what upsets you, what motivates you, and accepting those things to build strong self-management. Social awareness is noticing how you affect others and what they respond to. Self-management is accepting your emotional reactions and learning to control them. Relationship management is connecting social awareness with self-management. Joining these four components of EQ together not only builds a better work culture, but helps with personal growth as well. As Barbara said it, “when you learn to grow EQ by being more supportive, you learn that you’re helping yourself as well.”
VanKirk credits her emotional intelligence to being number 6 of 13 siblings. After spending years working for companies that did not value EQ the same way she did, VanKirk decided to start her own company. When asked why she started IQ, VanKirk recounted a former boss denying her request for a more efficient and flexible work schedule: “He said: ‘I can’t do that for you, I’d have to do that for every one!’” Her response was: “Well… why can’t we do that for everyone?” She was aware of emotional intelligence when she founded the company 24 years ago, and ensures on a daily basis that it remains part of the DNA of IQ Inc.
Why should companies care about EQ? VanKirk says that building an open, trust-based environment where everyone seeks to understand each other creates a happier, healthier work culture. As she puts it, “If I don’t know how you want to grow, how can I understand you and help you?” Actively building self-awareness and self-management helps managers motivate others, which is also known as harnessing emotions to work for you instead of against you.
VanKirk said that companies, managers, and employees can improve their emotional intelligence by “seeking to understand before being understood, and then knowing yourself and the person you are working with to make sure that you are asking the right questions.” She added that the value comes from “learning to manage your own emotions, how you understand coworkers, and how you manage those emotional strategies in order to elevate your coworkers.” It is learning how coworkers best receive information, how they like to communicate, and how they might interpret something based on their unique perspective.