How You Can Become A Star Performer

Aug 31, 2010 by

Last week, Stewart wrote about FIT profiles, and if you haven’t yet read his blog to find out why they’re useful for developing your ideal job profile – and the advantages of doing so before your job-hunt – then now would be a good time to do so, as this follows on from that.

I’ve got a brain, so what am I doing wrong?

Ever caught up with old classmates and got a surprise when you discovered that the brainbox destined for success and wealth slipped into an unfulfilling and very average job? Or that the class clown, not blessed with as many grey cells and forever mucking about, ended up a millionaire with the world at their feet? This situation is repeated time and time again all over the world wherever class reunions take place. So, what’s the secret to success?

In ‘The EQ Edge’, Stein and Book quote research carried out by Thomas Stanley for his book ‘The Millionaire Mind’, that included a survey of 733 multi-millionaires in the US. They were asked to rate factors that were most responsible for their success. Stein and Book list the top five as follows:

1. Being honest with all people
2. Being well disciplined
3. Getting along with people
4. Having  a supportive spouse
5. Working harder than most people

Notice anything interesting? All of these reflect emotional intelligence rather than intellect. So, what is emotional intelligence?

“In everyday language, emotional intelligence (EQ) is what we commonly refer to as “street smarts,” or that uncommon ability we label “common sense.” It has to do with the ability to read the political and social environment, and landscape them; to intuitively grasp what others want and need, what their strengths and weaknesses are; to remain unruffled by stress; and to be engaging, the kind of person others want to be around.” Steven J Stein and Howard E. Book, The EQ Edge

Why not being EQ aware may be harming your career development:

  • Interviewers will only hire people they like. The skills we use to get people to like being around us are EQ skills.
  • Our enduring happiness and job satisfaction hangs on our ability to appreciate what makes us tick, and then to go out into the world and get ourselves into a role that suits our particular needs, interests and skills. The skills needed for us to do successfully are EQ skills.
  • Progressing our careers demands that we can identify our weaknesses and work to strengthen them without beating ourselves up about it. It often depends on our ability to deal constructively with the frailties of other people, and use their strengths to the full. All these skills are EQ skills.

How to assess your EQ

EQ is measured on the same scale as IQ. You might come across some tests online, but nothing beats assessment, feedback and coaching by qualified professionals.

If you don’t want to spend money on a test, or if your company won’t do it for you, a less scientific but useful exercise might be to engage in some self-reflection using the Bar-On model of EQ as a guide. The Bar-On model examines a number of skills that fall within different “realms.” A brief description of each, taken from The EQ Edge, is listed below, but nothing can beat getting hold of the book yourself and exploring each realm in greater detail.

Intrapersonal Realm

Emotional self-awareness
Ability to be aware and understand your feelings, behaviours and impact on others.
Ability to express and defend your beliefs in a constructive way.
Ability to be self-directed and free of emotional dependency on others.
Ability to respect and accept your strengths and weaknesses.
Ability to set personal goals and realize your potential.

Interpersonal Realm

Ability to view the world from another person’s perspective.
Social Responsibility
Ability to be a co-operative, contributing member of your social group.
Interpersonal relationships
Ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships with others.

Adaptability Realm

Problem solving
Ability to solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature.
Reality testing
Ability to view things the way they are rather than the way you want or fear them to be.
Ability to adapt or adjust your thinking, behaving or feelings to new information.

Stress Tolerance Realm

Stress tolerance
Ability to effectively withstand adverse events and constructively cope.
Impulse control
Ability to resist or delay an impulse, drive or temptation to act.

General Mood Realm

Ability to feel satisfied with yourself, others and life in general.
Ability to be positive and look on the brighter side of life.

How to apply your EQ assesment to your job hunt.

Nothing new here I’m afraid.  The trick is to apply what you learn about yourself to your job hunt.

Let’s take an example of how this could work:

Bob is an accountant at a large blue-chip company. He occupies a senior position within the division he works for and his next step would be promotion to the top spot, Divisional Head of Finance. He’s been groomed for that job for years, but finds himself unhappy and demoted after only three months in the new job. How could this happen?

Bob takes the Bar-On EQ test which reveals that, although he’s an excellent accountant and brilliant strategist, his people skills might have been causing problems in his new role. Among other things, the test showed he was high on assertiveness, stress tolerance and independence, but low on emotional self-awareness and empathy.  This revealed part of Bob’s problem:

As Divisional Head of Finance, Bob had assumed more managerial responsibility for staff than previously. He hadn’t seen the value of building relationships with his staff early on in the job, had implemented projects without much prior consultation and had sacked one member of staff in a manner which lacked sensitivity. His behaviour had impacted on staff who perceived him as arrogant. He lost their support, and moral and productivity in that part of the company went down as a result.

Bob took note of his EQ test results and, with some coaching, applied his knowledge in two ways:

First, he examined different career paths to find ones that would suit him.  He realised that Consultancy work offered the financial rewards he desired, along with the opportunity to use his strategic expertise, without the responsibility for managing large teams of people. The most successful Consultants tended to have the following attributes which Bob had in spades: stress tolerance, self-regard, optimism, independence and reality testing. In theory then, this sort of work ought to suit Bob well and he decided to focus his job hunt on this sort of work.

Secondly, Bob wanted to keep as many options open as possible though, including the option of re-entering management at a later time, so he examined the reasons for his failure as a Divisional Head of Finance.

He explored the reasons why others were successful and discovered that other Divisional Heads of Finance, or at least the successful ones, did things rather differently to him. They were all great strategists, but in the first three months in the role, they had done something he hadn’t: they had engaged with staff at all levels of the company, held face-to-face meetings when they could, won boardroom backing and the support of staff by making themselves available and listening to the views of others. All these managers had strong levels of empathy and interpersonal skills.

With some coaching, Bob started doing things to increase his awareness of his EQ weak spots, and doing the things that made the others successful managers.

Several months on, Bob found himself in a far better position career-wise. He found he was thriving in consultancy roles. Though it had been difficult, he had become a better listener and more aware of the feelings and needs of those he worked with. Colleagues enjoyed being around him more and, slowly but surely, his modified behaviour had improved his management style. 

What to do next:

If you’re not already on the case, go out and explore your own EQ profile.

“Your intelligence quotient (IQ) can be a predictor of things such as academic achievement. But it is fixed and unchangeable. The real key to personal and professional growth, and happiness, is your emotional quotient (EQ), which you can nurture and develop.” Steven J Stein and Howard E. Book, The EQ Edge



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