Building Emotional Intelligence for a Lifetime of Success

by NDFAuthors

  • Feb 24, 2016

By definition, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

Identifying great leaders is a very important yet extremely difficult task. When a country is experiencing a recession, who is the best candidate for president? When a company is struggling to make a profit, who should be chosen to lead? If the New England Patriots are down 20 in the championship game, which quarterback has the ability to dig them out?

From the above questions, it is evident that the trouble in identifying great leaders has plagued everyone from our nation’s superdelegates to NFL analysts. Throughout the decision process of electing a leader, scouts or coaches may often say something along the lines of, “this candidate has the intangibles or we are looking for the intangibles.” But what does that really mean? Superbowl winning coach, Brian Billick, explains that, “[the] intangibles are just a euphemism to say that we have no idea what we’re looking for, but we just know it when we see it.”

For the past two decades, many psychologists have embarked on a mission to quantify these so-called intangibles and explore ways to inculcate these unidentified, yet crucial, skills to the leaders of tomorrow; more commonly known as children. The result of years of research has given birth to a concept known as Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – a metric highly correlated with future success and effective leadership. Furthermore, this research has begetted many statistically significant parenting techniques that allow children to increase their EQ before reaching adulthood.

Copyright: KonstantinChristian

Copyright: KonstantinChristian

By definition, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

It is thought to have three skills:

  1. Emotional awareness – the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others
  2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving
  3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.

Simply stated, those with greater EQ have better self awareness and confidence. They understand that great achievements in our world are not usually independent feats but the efforts of many.  With the ability to manage their emotions and impulses, they can understand how other members of their team react and feel. TalentSmart has conducted a study with more than a million people and attributed EQ for 58% of a leader’s job performance. They also identified that 90% of the top-performing leaders have high EQs and that people with high EQs make on average $29,000 more per annum than their low EQ counterparts.

For a long time, EQ has been considered to be in the category of intangible skills because active development of EQ had never been a parenting priority. Only 36% of people, tested by TalentSmart, were able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. So how do we instill emotional intelligence into children?

Copyright: Andrii Oleksiienko

Copyright: Andrii Oleksiienko

The billion dollar answer is actually quite intuitive. Modeling. Children primarily learn emotional intelligence from their parents via observation. In the early stages of development, kids absorb the behavior of their parents with a keen focus on emotions. How does mom or dad behave in response to strong emotions? How do they react and respond to the emotions of others?

5  Useful Techniques for Increasing the EQ

Below are five useful techniques that parents can use to increase the EQ of their children:

  1. Don’t overpraise individual achievement: High fixation on individual achievement actually has an adverse effect on children. This is because the most constructive advances in the world are not a product of individual achievement, but the result of the collective efforts by tens of thousands of people. By overemphasizing a child’s individual achievement, he or she may incorrectly perceive how work gets done.
  2. Showing that everyone is human: Parents want to often serve as good role models for kids, but it is important for children to see who they really are. Children need to see vulnerability from their parents and know that their heroes are also prone to making mistakes. If vulnerability is not shown, the child may develop intense guilt from every failure with the incorrect notion that they are the only ones who make mistakes.  
  3. Allowing children to experience risk and failure: In the real world, the road to success is paved with failure. Children need to know how to adapt to failures and become increasingly resilient. The best leaders don’t sink from disappointments but learn from their mistakes and are eager to try again.
  4. Stand by your word: By staying true to the things that you promise to do, children will develop a strong sense of responsibility. Understanding that you are held accountable for the things you promise to do is one of life’s most important skills; regardless of whether or not you are the leader of a team.
  5. Delay gratification: A great leader is patient as he or she understands that the fruits of great work are more often enjoyed in the long-run as opposed to immediately after a task has been completed. Patience is not simply the ability to wait, but how one behaves while waiting.
Copyright: William Perugini

Copyright: William Perugini

When you provide children with the skills to not only control their emotions, but also relate to others in positive ways, you are giving them the tools to be a great leader. Such children grow up to be passionate about the goals of the team, compassionate about the members of the team, and dispassionate about the obstacles that lie ahead.