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10 signs you lack emotional intelligence

Good leadership relies on high EQ. But how do you know if you are an emotionally intelligent leader? By Nicola Heath

It’s not just a buzzword. In the modern workplace, emotional intelligence often outranks technical ability.

“Businesses don’t want to hire people just based on their IQ,” says Ushma Dhanak, a HR specialist who runs Collaborate HR, a consultancy offering HR support to SMEs. “It’s all about how to manage people, how to lead people, how to read your own emotions and how to use that skill to read the emotions of others and respond accordingly.”

EQ is the “X-factor” that creates effective leaders, says Dhanak. Studies have established a strong link between emotional intelligence and business performance. It’s also linked to employee engagement. “If a business has a highly-engaged workforce, it means there are more people or leaders managing them with higher EQ,” she says.

Emotional intelligence has been on the radar since 1990, when psychology professors John D. Mayer of University of New Hampshire and Peter Salovey of Yale coined the term in a research paper.

In 1998, Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman linked emotional intelligence to leadership in an influential article published in Harvard Business Review titled ‘What Makes a Leader’. Without emotional intelligence, he wrote, “a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”

Today Dhanak runs EQ workshops for a range of clients including the Australia Federal Police, marketing and advertising companies and dental practices. “We use emotional intelligence techniques to help the business manage HR issues, and focus on the leadership teams to really make them aware of how they’re feeling and what that impact is having on their team.”


What’s your EQ?

Workplaces lacking in emotional intelligence are often plagued by problems such as micromanagement, a lack of trust and bullying.

To help leaders gauge their own emotional intelligence, Dhanak has created a list of 10 signs that an individual lacks EQ:

  1. You are easily stressed and irritated
  2. You treat people rashly and unfairly
  3. You are wrapped up in your own world
  4. You are over-confident
  5. You fear change
  6. You take failure badly
  7. You get into conflicts easily
  8. You interrupt and don’t listen
  9. You find fault with others easily
  10. Your relationships break down


The first step of Dhanak’s training is a self-assessment, a 10-minute online test that scores respondents across 26 competencies of emotional intelligence, including innovation, creativity and service orientation.

Based on those results Dhanak develops a coaching plan that can be delivered one-on-one or in a series of workshops run over a six to 12-month period.

Many traits contribute to emotional intelligence – empathy, flexibility, honesty, resilience, positivity, the ability to listen – but one of the most crucial is self-awareness. It’s important to understand your strengths and weaknesses and be better prepared for situations when these will be exposed, says Dhanak.

“Can you name the emotions you’re feeling? If you are not aware of what emotion you’re feeling you are not going to be able to read it and explain it to other people.”

Want to know more about Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Join our webinar on the 30th of August where we discuss the neuroscience behind WHY Emotional Intelligence is so important, as well as practical tips to boost your EQ & take your leadership to a new level.

Book today



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