A new concept in leadership – “rewardingness” – can help determine a leader’s influence and the success or otherwise of their business unit. The most successful interventions to change or improve leadership performance often look at modifying other people’s opinion of a leader, rather than how leaders see themselves.
Our assessments are focused not on who people think they are, how they see themselves or trying to assess their true, deep, metaphysical nature… but trying to predict and help them shape the way they behave so they can engage their subordinates and be better leaders
We have lots of hard statistical evidence showing that you can correlate aspects of a leader’s personality, like his or her emotional intelligence, to business unit performance… Why do leaders with a certain personality make businesses more successful? Well one of the reasons we know is that they build trust. They’re capable of building trust in their subordinates, and one of the key determinants of trust is emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is typically defined as a person’s ability to identify and manage their own emotions and those of other people, and relates to traits such as empathy and self-awareness.
You can’t think of a competency that is relevant for job performance or leadership that isn’t part of one existing EQ model.
Our research has found EQ is critical for success in most – if not all – jobs. There are about two or three million different jobs in the world – and more organisations of course – but although they are very, very different they all have something in common.
The question we tried to answer is what is it that makes certain people more successful? What is it that makes certain people more employable – more able to gain and maintain a job, regardless of the industry sector, the type of job and the role?
The research found three common determinants of success: ability, work ethic, and “rewardingness” – the extent to which employees are rewarding to deal with, or their ability to be liked by co-workers, subordinates and superiors. EQ affects the three core determinants of employability, but especially it affects being rewarding to deal with.
EQ also affects the ability to work. Not just in jobs like sales, marketing [and] PR, but any job – even to the highly technological areas – involves dealing with people, and we have lots of data showing that EQ relates to employee engagement levels. In other words, the higher your emotional intelligence, the more easily you will engage, which means you will work harder.
What does this mean for leadership assessments?
EQ assessments should focus on six attributes:
Detection – “The degree to which a person seems aware of others’ emotions and thoughts”;
Regulation – “The degree to which a person seems able to maintain positive emotional states”;
Influence – “The degree to which a person seems able to intentionally affect others’ moods, thoughts and behaviours”;
Expression – “The degree to which a person seems able to effectively communicate desired emotional states to others”;
Empathy – “The degree to which a person seems able to feel what others are feeling”; and
Awareness – “The degree to which a person seems in touch with his or her own emotions”.
Awareness is a very important one, because like most other socially desirable things, if you ask people whether they have high emotional intelligence, high credibility [or] high EQ, 70 or 80 per cent of people will tell you ‘Yes’, but the reality is somewhat different.
Any intervention to improve, develop or boost performance needs to start with awareness. With proper, accurate assessments you can build awareness as to what behaviours should be targeted in an intervention, then via applying or using 360s you can get feedback on that. Without providing leaders with a clear sense of who they are now and the direction they need to go in, leadership coaching will be “random” and ineffective.
The earlier you assess people the better it is… for them, because certainly what we focus on is relatively stable – we get to your typical default patterns of behaviour. So the sooner you’re aware of what your tendencies are, and what’s constructive and destructive about that, the more you can work on modifying your behaviour.
The work that you do with mid-level managers will hopefully help them… have more self-awareness and be better leaders later on. When you’re working with people who are very experienced and have been in a role for a long time they are, on average, less coachable, partly because things that might be quite self-destructive or counterproductive may have worked as strengths until now, so they got reinforced by success.
High EQ scores aren’t always ideal.
While EQ often correlates with leadership success, Chamorro-Premuzic warns against taking a generic approach to any leadership assessment. Since EQ is essentially a specific set of personality-related traits or attributes… it would be too overly simplistic to say low scores are bad, high scores are better.
We’ve done lots of studies and we have a lot of data showing that if you’re looking for somebody for a creative role, for example, [or] if you want people to be more passionate, if you want people sometimes to be more coachable, more sensitive to negative feedback, and sometimes if you want people to be able to provide… tough negative feedback, lower scores are better than higher scores.
While leaders with high EQ tend to be more pleasant, altruistic and agreeable, if the score is too high there can also be negative implications.If your score is above 75 or 80 [on Hogan’s EQ scale] you’re almost resistant or immune to negative feedback. You’re so calm, so stable, so happy, and almost self-sufficed and smug, that you don’t change… You really need to spend some time thinking about what the real, true requirements are for that job and what the pros and cons are of each.
Extract from hrdaily artcle on a talk given by Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic: Vice-president of innovation at Hogan Assessments