The foundation of EQ
Emotional intelligence (EQ) plays a large role in our professional – and personal – success. We might have the technical skills and knowledge to be good at our jobs, but we also need the "people" skills to understand others, work well with different people, and communicate effectively. Having solid sets of both hard and soft skills is what gets you to the top.
I've written frequently about the importance of EQ and how to gauge your proficiency in it. It can be challenging to put it into action, and it often requires intentional effort to convey it to your employees. Especially when there are a million other things going on. But it helps build trust, respect, and loyalty.
My father-in-law Earle Keirstead knows that EQ is one of my favorite things to talk about and sent me an article from Inc. that really hits the nail on the head. It's insights from a conversation with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, during which he says the message he'd put on a billboard is:
"Be kind; everyone is on their own journey."
That's the foundation of EQ – empathy. We hear empathy used often in leadership advice because the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and truly understand where they're coming from is critical. However, it's not necessarily a characteristic we all easily possess or demonstrate. We all can be selfish. We all can be too caught up in what's going on in our own lives and not give others the time of day.
Especially this year – 2020: The year of uncertainty and crises – we've all gone through a tremendous amount of change and stress. We each carry these burdens differently. Some people want to openly discuss it. Others internalize it and are perceived as being fine.
The job of leaders is to create an environment where people are mindful and respectful of others. If someone is having a bad day, connect with them to get a better understanding of what's going. Don't push too hard if they don't want to open up, but let them know you are there for them and they always have space to talk if needed.
It's also important to remember, as Inc. writer Jessica Stillman reminds us, that not everything is as perfect as it appears. It's easy to compare ourselves to others, but we have a front-row seat to our internal struggles and insecurities, making it easy to be our own worst critic. We don't know what's going in that person's life, but what we do know is that they have their own struggles, whatever they may be.
So, be kind to people. Be kind to yourself. We're all going through something. When we recognize that, that's when meaningful connections are formed.
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About the Author
B. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry. Since becoming president and CEO in 2013, Berger, who is also an author, economist, and one of Washington's top lobbyists, is credited with bringing national attention to key policy issues, while ensuring NAFCU's members meet policymakers at the highest levels of government.