According to the Sheffield Leadership Survey 2018, 37% of young leaders said that people skills and relationships were a key issue they were focusing on. Moreover, people skills were one of the critical shortages in their leadership team. It’s therefore no surprise that we cannot underestimate the importance of the continued development of people skills - also known as emotional intelligence or EQ.

The big question is, can it be developed? Think about someone you know who is very capable but just can’t quite manage the people-components of their role. Quite often their IQ is rather high, but their people leadership skills are somewhat lacking. Everyone knows someone like this and they can be found in all companies, but particularly apparent in the scientific and engineering industries. So do you think these people can change? Can they develop EQ?

Research shows that levels of EQ are firm but not fixed. Our level of EQ is fairly stable over time and is primarily influenced by genetics and childhood experiences. This does not mean we can’t change it. On the contrary, it can be changed. Having said that, if you’re looking for massive improvements, you may need to work rather hard! Generally, anyone can change but few people are seriously motivated to do so. A development programme may be useful but is not guaranteed to yield brilliant results. The person has got to want to change.

If however you want to change here are three things you’ll need:

1.     A good coaching programme. No programme, no matter how effective they claim to be, can increase someone’s EQ from 0 to 100%. But well designed programmes for developing interpersonal skills can achieve improvements of up to 25%.

2.    Accurate and timely feedback. This is a critical aspect with coaching. Feedback needs to be prompt, timely and in-the-moment, not once a year!

3.    Motivation. The person being coached has got to want to change. There’s no point sticking them on a course if they don’t want to be there. What’s in it for them? Are they aware of the consequences of NOT developing their EQ?

Finally, remember that some people are simply more coachable than others - just like athletes. And the good news is that EQ tends to increase with age anyway!!

 

Louise's original article can be found on LinkedIn here.

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