Emotional Intelligence (“EQ”) is a hot topic in the business world, especially as it relates to hiring and leadership development. You will find a wide variety of definitions for EQ online but the underlying and primary concept revolves around a person’s ability to use thoughts and intelligence to examine and rationally act on their emotions and the emotions of others.
I recently came across Travis Bradberry’s article, “10 Ways to Spot a Truly Exceptional Employee”
(Forbes) which lists types of EQ skills and how exceptional employees leverage them. Bradberry begins by highlighting the fact that EQ is not an inherent personality trait, but rather a skill that can be developed. As I read the article, I was struck by his comments on the role leaders can potentially play in the evolution of those skills and it got me thinking about the ways in which leaders here at Phillips Edison work with our team to develop EQ skills when they are absent or in need of enhancement.
Over the years we’ve spent a lot of time, energy and effort on how to measure EQ and how to best develop it in our team members. Those efforts have included everything from DiSC assessments to 360 reviews, group study of The 5 dysfunctions of a Team, to, get this --- a class called “What a Horse Can Teach You.” (Believe it or not Mike Phillips and Blue Sky Ranch in Utah can open your eyes to a lot of your strengths and weaknesses by simply watching and giving feedback as you struggle to coach a horse for about 30 minutes.)
It has taken time, but what we’ve finally settled on is that EQ and developing EQ really isn’t something you teach in a class, but something that must be learned more informally through consistent feedback and input from others. To facilitate an environment that promotes this kind of behavior, we have been working hard to deploy throughout our organization something that is effective in its simple design but like most things, more difficult to execute on. It’s called every day coaching and is based on the concept that a talented leader doesn’t wait until a semi-annual or annual review to highlight opportunities to develop EQ. Instead, they incorporate feedback and training into every day interactions with their associates. We’ve thrown the standard review process out the door and now expect our leaders and associates to follow guidelines such as:
- Don’t wait until feedback is offered – ask for it and be open to the potential criticism that comes with it.
- If you see someone operating with the “that’s not my job” mentality – point it out.
- Don’t settle for status quo because that’s how it’s always been done. Encourage people to innovate.
When a leader becomes effective at providing such feedback in real time they significantly increase their ability to grow the EQ of their team. In this learning model the onus of developing EQ skills lies with the associate and his or her manager and when an associate is not just truly open to everyday coaching but actively seeks it, they can begin to do what Bradberry calls “incorporate EQ into their repertoire.” This give and take of open communication is better than any class or seminar for growing EQ.
Here at Phillips Edison we relate EQ to one of our core values – “Do the right thing.” We do the right thing, even if it isn’t always the easy thing. A lot of Bradberry’s 10 EQ skills can be summed up in that short phrase. When associates and managers alike do the right thing and evaluate and encourage each other regularly and candidly with that value in mind, I think they’ll find that they’ve already started down the path of increasing EQ and becoming exceptional team members.