Emotional Intelligence - A Game Changer for Your Career

You are the first to arrive in the office and frequently the last to shut it down at night. You often forego weekend activities so you can stay caught up and you always volunteer for the tough tasks others try to avoid.

You work hard, are on top of your game, and have earned the accolades you’ve accumulated.

But have you ever stopped and asked yourself whether running nonstop on a hamster wheel is truly what drives success? Or is it something else? 

According to Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, success comes down to Emotional Intelligence (E.I.).

But what is E.I.?

Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as “ … the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others."  

E.I.’s four components are:

  Self Awareness

  Social Awareness

  Self Management

  Relationship Management


As a former healthcare executive and current certified executive-coach, I’ve interviewed countless leaders at all levels. The most successful combine book and street smarts with keen emotional intelligence.  From my experience, here are 11 characteristics of emotionally intelligent leaders:

1.      They Balance and know that staying on top of their game requires engagement, choice, and focus like balancing on a BOSU. And experience has taught them if they try to do too much, it can lead to an embarrassing fall. 

2.     They Prioritize and live the principles of Essentialism by focusing on needle-moving behaviors. They pause, punt, or push non-critical activities.  

3.     They Hustle and move like Gary Vaynerchuk. They know that hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.

4.     They Care like CareerCoach, Tanya Ezekiel, and know that success starts with their clients, customers, and team members. They are masters of We focus.   

5.     They Give and follow Dan Waldschimdt’s advice. The best give and expect nothing in return; others give to get.

6.    They’re Less than Perfect, and, thanks to Brene Brown, they are comfortable being vulnerable. They know that mistakes are learning opportunities, and in a world filled with judges, the pursuit of perfection often slows progress.

7.     They’re Present and follow the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt, who understood that Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, and Today is a Gift. Like business coach, Jen Roberts, they resist the temptation to multi-focus and aren’t distracted by shiny objects.   

8.    They Ask great questions. Yes, many are about vision and strategy, but the best ones focus on self-reflection and are inspired by coaching guru, Marshall Goldsmith:

·      Did I do my best to make myself happy?

·      Did I do my best to find meaning in my work and life?

·      Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

·      Did I do my best to build positive connections at work and life?

·      Did I do my best to set clear priorities?

·      Did I do my best to make progress against my priorities?

·      How many times did I try to prove I was right when it wasn’t worth it?


9.    They Flow like a Duck. When they feel stress or pressure, they remain calm on the surface, yet continue to paddle forward with determination. E.I. leaders understand that they set the tone. One reactionary quack can ruffle too many feathers.   

10.  They Search for options. They know, like Coach Dayne, that more levels equal more devils. Therefore, more options are a must.  And since life and business are rarely black and white movies, the best see options through colorful kaleidoscopes.

11.    They Quiet their inner critic. All leaders, including those with high E.I., have one. The most successful, like author Mark Minard, know how to name it, quiet it, and move forward.

There is more to success than working yourself to exhaustion. Yes, hard work, commitment, and persistence are excellent traits that will get you far. But, don’t overlook the importance of emotional intelligence to bump you to the next level.

How many of the qualities above do you lead with on a regular basis? Do you see areas where you could improve? 

Text SHIFT4SUCCESS to 44222 to received my weekly SHIFT Tip to become more emotionally intelligent and successful.