Emotional Intelligence: Need & Components
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
No one can deny the key role emotions play in our relationships with our near and dear ones and even in daily dealing with strangers. They affect every spectrum of one’s life attitude, behaviour, and actions i.e., how we take life, how we manage our relations with others, and how we make personal decisions. That is why emotions have been the stuff of all great literature all over the world throughout history.
Although their importance in our professional life has always been recognised, their formal induction as a leadership skill and management tool was done in the 1980s when they entered the management literature as one of the essential ingredients of success for managers. Too much stress on the intelligence quotient created a backlash leading social scientists to identify the missing link to assess the effectiveness or otherwise of a leader.
Studies after studies proved that people with average IQs but higher emotional stability outperform those with the highest IQs but lacking sufficient emotional maturity. This led to the development of an Emotional Quotient (EQ) to be considered along with the Intelligent Quotient (IQ) as the two essential tools to recruit and manage people.
Dr Goleman is now universally credited for popularising this in management literature; now no course on management, public or private, is without a chapter on emotional intelligence. It is now considered as important as the other skills for better service delivery to be acquired by public servants or those working in any field. An essential skill for better service delivery as well as for self-actualization, emotional intelligence is as important as intelligence. No one would like to be branded as a highly efficient but emotionally unstable person
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Salovey and Mayer define emotional intelligence as “The ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions “. According to Dr Golman, emotional intelligence is the “capacity for recognizing our feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships”.
Palethorpe has identified the following two dimensions of emotional intelligence
- Intra-personal Intelligence/Self-management: Being intelligent in identifying our thoughts and feelings (self-awareness) and being effective at dealing with those thoughts and feelings
- Inter-personal Intelligence/Relationship Management: Being intelligent in identifying the thoughts and feelings of others and between others (others’ awareness) and being effective in how we tailor our actions to work with others most appropriately
These two determine the level of your competence as well as your competency in handling the relations. Personal competence comprises your self-awareness and self-management skills, your ability to be aware of your emotions, and manage your behaviour.
Social competence, on the other hand, consists of your social awareness and relationship management skills, your ability to understand other people’s motives and moods, attitudes, and behaviour, to respond effectively to any situation or manage your relationships.
There are four dimensions of emotional intelligence.
- Identifying Emotions: Becoming aware of emotions, your own as well as of others
- Understanding Emotions: Finding out the reasons for the emotions
- Managing Emotions: Keeping calm and working hard
- Using Emotions: Matching them to the task
Based on the above, Dr Goleman has listed the following three traits of an emotionally intelligent person.
- Responsible: Every person is responsible for recognizing and managing his/her emotions and making responsible decisions
- Respectful: He is respectful towards others’ emotions, develops caring and concern for others, and establishes positive relationships
- Reliable: He is reliable and can be trusted to handle challenging situations constructively and ethically
Need for Emotional Intelligence
Why do we need to be emotionally intelligent and master this skill? According to a test conducted by TalentSmart, a well-known firm in this field, out of more than 30 workplace skills, “emotional intelligence, turned out to be the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58 per cent of the success in all types of jobs”. Whether it was time management or change management, making a presentation, or explaining a point in a meeting, emotional intelligence was the most crucial skill for effective job performance.
And we can check this in our offices-all those who are considered high achievers or top performers will be invariably emotionally balanced persons and vice versa. And this will hold for any country or any organisation you study. An organisation is doomed to fail in achieving its objectives if its employees are at daggers drawn for trifles and cannot come to terms with one another due to their being emotionally dull
Emotional intelligence is also needed for achieving your objective of self-actualization. You joined the civil service for varied objectives. One of them to me is what Maslow called “self-actualization, the realisation or fulfilment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.”
Emotional Intelligence: Some Mis-perceptions
Unfortunately, there have been certain misconceptions about the emotional side of human beings and their use in personal and professional life. Some of these are.
1. It is genetically inherited
Like the misperception, we noted in leadership, it is generally perceived that some people are genetically prone to emotionalism while others are very hard-hearted. The implication is that you cannot learn emotional intelligence if you are genetically inherited to be more emotional. Nothing can be further than the truth.
Yes, their childhood/school experiences might have made them react more emotionally than others but there is no cause for despondency. You can make them feel at ease by providing them with the proper working environment and giving them the respect, they deserve and counselling them if needed. The same applies to you also. Be more emotionally intelligent than others
2. It means being nice but ineffective
Of course, being nice is a good thing but remaining within limits when dealing with your colleagues, boss or subordinates is the name of the game. You must be firm when someone crosses the limits and encroaches upon the other’s sphere of the emotional threshold.
3. It allows free licence for emotional outbursts
Extremely far-fetched. Emotional intelligence is the ability to control your emotions and give vent to them at the right time, at the right place, and in the right quantity. It is the occasion that decides what to do with the emotions-yours or others.
4. Females are emotional, and men are rational
This is another myth passed on for centuries mainly through the great work of literature. Thank God, it is giving way to rational view-both sex are emotional and need to learn emotional intelligence to use them effectively in work and relationship
5. Using emotions is emotional blackmailing
A false interpretation. Emotional intelligence is quite the opposite. You use emotions to make a person at ease to bring out the best in him or her and not manipulate him. Even if you do it, it is not going to last very far
What are the essential ingredients for emotional intelligence? To me, these are the following.
1. Look for Symptoms
2. Find the causes
3. Improve Working Conditions/Environment
4. Excel in Job
5. Manage the Change Scientifically
6. Use Incentives and Rewards
7. Be Fair and Transparent in Service Matters
8. Improve Communications
9. Provide Individual Counselling
- Look for Symptoms
The first task of a civil servant in charge of an organisation or its sub-unit is to assess whether the employees are performing to the best of their abilities or not. If you see any slackness in their performance such as poor service delivery, slipping of targets, complaints from the public about bad public dealing, etc., it is time to take stock of the situation. Similarly, a quarrelsome attitude among employees. increased absenteeism, lack of teamwork, and shirking of responsibility are some other indicators that there is something wrong with the way things are going on.
2. Find the Causes
Assessing the situation is one thing; finding the cause is the hardest part. There may be several causes for the poor performance levels of the organisation; some of them may not have to do anything with emotional stability. A sheer bureaucratic setup is devoid of emotions-add poor working conditions and you will have a perfect recipe for an emotionally unstable working environment. Try to improve it first whatever is possible with the resources available, and the authority delegated to you.
Is there enough working space for each employee? Is everyone getting proper staff support? Is there a shortage of equipment and material that is responsible for putting in less than the best efforts? It may be sudden and repeated policy changes, particularly relating to their service matters, causing resentment among the employees. Interestingly, it may turn out that you, being unreasonable, maybe the cause of all! Report after report has revealed that an unreasonable attitude of the boss is the biggest cause of an employee leaving the organisation.
3. Improve Working Conditions and Environment:
Once you have found the causes of the unsatisfactory levels of performance of the employees and it turns out that more than half of it is due to unsatisfactory working conditions, then start your campaign from here. Give each employee proper working space; sometimes a bit of ingenuity can result in proper space utilisation.
Make a common facilities room where you can pool all the necessary equipment to be shared; no need to give everyone heavy machinery like workstations. Not to lose sight is the proper staff support through judicious rearrangement of those available.
Once you have taken care of the working conditions, and the hardware of the organization, it is now time to improve the working environment which can be called its software. Here your emotional intelligence skill can play wonders. Create teamwork by using all the leadership qualities you have. Patronize the champions, mollify the losers, build capacity, simplify rules, and improve communication- the sky is the limit for removing the negativity in the working environment and promoting positivity instead.
4. Excel in Job
As stated, again and again, it is the professional competency of a civil servant that is the bedrock of all your excellence in leadership. Your qualities of head and heart are no doubt essential but if you lack the requisite knowledge about the field of your work, their impact would be nullified in a short period. “Banda tou bara acha hai, per hai nalaiq (he is a good person but a stupid officer) will be the comments your subordinates, boss, and colleagues will be uttering with tongues in cheek!
To excel in your job, you must have a thorough knowledge of the legal framework and regulatory framework of your organization other words you must know the acts passed by the legislature regarding the role and functions of your ministry/department usually elaborated in the Rules of Business, policies formulated, and directives issued by the competent authorities in this regard and court judgments passed. This legal/regulatory framework not only defines the boundaries of your field of operations but also provides a broad guideline for carrying out your duties.
Secondly, you must have a grasp of the vital facts and figures about the organization and its areas of operations. Although you are not supposed to memorize all of them by heart you should be at least aware of the sources of this information when needed
Thirdly, as stated earlier, a leader gives a vision and a mission that is impossible to do if you do not know the strengths of the organization as well as the opportunities available for organizational survival and growth. At the same time, you should be fully cognizant of its weaknesses and the threats that it can face in the near to the far future. Based on this SWOT Analysis, you can frame the list of challenges the organization is likely to face in the short to medium and the long term. Based on this information, you can prepare an appropriate response in the form of an organizational vision and its mission
5. Manage the Change Scientifically
Keeping in view the importance of scientifically managing a change, I have listed it as a separate skill in Chapter 5. Everyone avoids change as it creates stress and strains. Recognize the change- what is bothering them? Institutional restructuring? The political philosophy of the new regime? Amend vision/mission statements, revise the legal/regulatory framework per new imperatives
Any change in one’s personal or professional life is always very stressful. These changes could be of any dimension, emanate from various sources and affect people differently. Recognizing its coming, its impact, and how effectively you manage it, will affect your service delivery, employees’ morale, and work environment. For example, a change of government that comes with a drastic set of structural changes can cause a lot of anxiety for public servants who had become used to a different way of doing things. Bureaucrats working in countries where military coups are the norm are the most stressed class because of working in a different environment and the rules of the game.
Technological changes are another major source of stress for public servants. You cannot imagine the anxiety and frustration of myself and my colleagues when we were asked to learn how to operate a computer. Then came the concept of e-governance and we had to change the entire framework of thinking and doing the normal work. Smartphones have brought customers to your doorsteps. God knows better what would happen to you when Angelina, your PA will be a robot-not a human being!
Social changes are slow but very lethal. Look at the increased expectations of the general public from you for good governance, the media’s intrusion into your affairs in the name of access to information, the parliamentary oversight, the civil society organisations’ quest for transparency, etc. These were bound to come with the progress and modernisation process that started decades ago; now they have arrived
The same is the case with economic changes at the national, regional, and global levels. While liberalisation and privatisation are squeezing the domain of public service, the rapidly globalizing world is even curtailing the discretion of civil servants in the implementation of public policies. All these changes, in turn, are affecting public management concepts and practices. New sets of legal frameworks are needed in the age of greater Private Public Partnership. Greater outsourcing means less to do with the direct provision of public goods of the past and more to do with regulation, supervision, and hosts of other issues.
6. Incentives and Rewards
Proper recognition and reward for something done better than others go a long way in creating a positive attitude towards work. Use non-monetary incentives if you are unable to reward someone with monetary rewards. Public appreciation of decent work is one such good way to do so
Other methods to do so are preferential treatment in awarding leave, training opportunities, travel abroad, etc.
Counselling in private and punishing someone immediately for negligence is as essential as rewarding someone for good work While awarding someone for good work, explain the criteria adopted for deciding a meeting as well as in writing. Besides creating trust among the employees about the fair treatment policy of the organisation, it will help everyone to understand what is required to earn rewards, incentivizes others, and boosts the morale of the one who has been rewarded.
Transparency and fair dealing is the hallmark of an emotionally stable organisation. If employees know that honesty and hard work has a premium, one major cause of friction and resentment among the employees is eliminated. Application of the merit principle in the work environment and service matters goes a long way in earning the loyalty of the employees and making them emotionally attached to the work.
The importance of communication cannot be overemphasized for emotional stability at the personal, professional, and organisational levels. Understanding your emotional take on the task or the work environment is the key to job satisfaction and consequently your job performance. Discuss it with your boss if you are not satisfied with any aspect of your job description or work environment; let your subordinate be allowed to discuss it like way with you. Rather facilitate them to vent their feelings about their organizational structure and culture. When you lack emotional intelligence, it’s hard to understand how you come across to others.
Give vent to your feelings about a situation honestly and let others do so for improving the situation. Do express your resentment if unavoidable but do not burst out in public. Remember-emotions are contagious-smiling faces cheer up everyone. Pay compliments a day to one person at least and see the results. Expunge out all the negative words from your official vocabulary and substitute them with positive words i.e. ‘Challenge’ instead of ‘problem’
Dealing with an emotionally unstable employee or member of the public is one of the most daunting challenges you will come across in your civil service career. While in the private sector, they handle the situation by just firing him-no questions asked. However, in the public sector such employees, if not handled properly, become a liability as you cannot just throw them out. In that situation, first, try to find out the cause of his emotional trouble. What is bothering him-you, his immediate boss or his subordinate? His job description?
Sometimes he may not be aware of the reason for this emotional instability troubling him; be patient, Use your intellect. Imagine yourself in his place and try to figure out the reason for his emotional outbursts. Find out who is the source of the trouble. Once diagnosed to the best of your ability, counsel him in private. Take him in confidence. If needed, advise him to seek professional help from a good psychiatrist. If nothing else, give him a break with paid holidays if possible but do not let him vitiate the environment. The emotional instability of an employee sometimes becomes viral!
Remember, emotions are very powerful but a double-edged weapon-if handled properly, your subordinates can do wonders. Mishandle them and you are doomed. While performing your duties you wear Edward de Bono’s different hats. You wear hats in different colours according to the situation. A red hat is to be worn when dealing with emotions on your own, those of your bosses, colleagues, subordinates, or the general public. Or those who are fond of golf; do not use the striker when putting!