Saturday Jan 17, 2009

Emotional Intelligence (EI / EQ)


“Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships," says Daniel Goleman in his book "Working with Emotional Intelligence" (1999). It describes abilities distinct from, but complementary to, academic intelligence - the purely cognitive capacities measured by IQ.

Emotional intelligence, or EI is the ability to understand your own emotions and those of people around you. The concept of emotional intelligence means you have a self-awareness that enables you to recognise feelings and helps you manage your emotions. On a personal level, it involves motivation and being able to focus on a goal rather than demanding instant gratification. A person with a high emotional intelligence is also capable of understanding the feelings of others. Culturally, they are better at handling relationships of every kind.

Just because someone is deemed 'intellectually' intelligent, it does not necessarily follow they are emotionally intelligent. Having a good memory, or good problem solving abilities, does not mean the person is dealing with emotions or motivating themselves.

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

In the recent years, the emergence of the emotional intelligence (EI) phenomenon has jolted traditional views of what it takes to be an effective leader. Several authors have written books describing what it is and how it can impact organizational effectiveness and its relevance to leadership development. Daniel Goleman, co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, has authored and co-authored Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence, and Primal Leadership. The empirical data, actual case studies, and relevant examples cited make a strong case for the critical importance and potential for nurturing the emotional competencies we all possess.

Some of the components of emotional intelligence include, self management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Self management. Remaining calm under stress or during a crisis is an obvious aspect of self management. Losing control during the tough times is at best confusing to employees and, at worst, can make them fearful and anxious. There are several less obvious aspects of self management, however. Good self-managers recognize that everyone makes mistakes and admit their own errors in judgment or deed. They’re also resilient and adaptable — key characteristics in today’s volatile business climate, where change and ambiguity are often the norm.
Social awareness. EI competency requires an awareness of the needs of others and an understanding of the politics and the “unwritten rules” within the organization. The ability to listen to employees and the courage and ability to manage conflict are also critical components of social awareness. Studies indicate that conflict management is one of the most challenging areas for business leaders.
Relationship management. This is not about the mere ability to get along with people. Relationship management draws together all the aspects of emotional intelligence and harnesses those capabilities to motivate and empower the organization. It’s about creating a team that’s more than the sum of its parts.

Managers with good EI competency understand that everything they say and do affects their employees. They value the different perspectives their employees bring to each situation. They manage conflict constructively so that employees can reach consensus and move forward. Managers with good EI competency inspire employees to pull together and function as a team.

Emotions, like germs, are easily transmissible. The trick is passing and receiving the right ones.”
—Stacey Coino

Emotions and moods impact our thinking and even the decisions we make and ultimately generate an attitude that we display through behavior and habits. Because emotions and moods are so contagious, the prevailing attitude of an organization is usually a reflection of its leadership.

Warren Bennis found that emotional intelligence was more important for success than any other asset, including intelligence (IQ) or technical expertise. Daniel Goleman and Cary Cherness suggested that as much as 90 percent of a leader’s success is due to emotional intelligence, and they believed that the higher the position, the more important emotional intelligence becomes. Research shows that emotional intelligence may actually be significantly more important than cognitive ability and technical expertise combined. In fact, some studies indicate that EQ is more than twice as important as standard IQ abilities. Further, evidence increasingly shows that the higher one goes in an organization, the more important EQ can be. For those in leadership positions, emotional intelligence skills account for close to 90 percent of what distinguishes outstanding leaders from those judged as average. Many experts have come to believe that emotional intelligence (EI) is the most accurate predictor of individual success. The higher an individual climbs on the corporate ladder, the more emotionally intelligent he becomes. In fact, some studies report an 85-percent correlation between EI competency and success.

In Working with Emotional Intelligence, Goleman reveals the skills that distinguish star performers in every field, from entry-level jobs to top executive positions. He shows that the single most important factor is not IQ, advanced degrees, or technical expertise, but the quality Goleman calls emotional intelligence. Self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-control; commitment and integrity; the ability to communicate and influence, to initiate and accept change – these competencies are at a premium in today's job market. The higher up the leadership ladder you go, the more vital these skills become, often influencing who is hired or fired, passed over or promoted. As Goleman shows, we all possess the potential to improve our emotional intelligence at any stage in our career. As individuals' accountabilities become more complex, and leaner budgets demand more output from less people, interdependency and teamwork are critical requirements for organizational effectiveness. Key contributors not only possess information and ideas, but more importantly, they have the ability to effectively utilize social networks within the organization. People want to discuss, learn, and collaborate with them because of their ability to build bonds, develop others, self-manage, listen, share information, and understand.

Whether one is formally assigned a leadership role, or surfaces as a leader in a given situation requiring leadership, key contributors are intuitive about the needs of others, recognize the nuances of a situation, and seamlessly respond to create positive outcomes. These are the differentiating factors, the emotional intelligence smarts, that change the landscape of our thinking about developing leaders. Goleman in his book, shares an analogy of the emotionally intelligent leader as the golf pro who assesses a shot, considers the implications and options, looks in his/her bag of many clubs, selects, and elegantly executes. As one plays more, tries out different strategies, becomes more confident and comfortable, the shots are more automatic and more consistently hit the target. In the same fashion, effective leaders are those who develop a range of El competencies, can assess situations intuitively, make sound choices about what is most needed by individuals and the group in a multitude of situations, and then deliver.

Job competency skills may be broadly categorized in two – one refers to the base set of skill sets required to get the job done and the second set of skills are the competencies that differentiate the star performers from the average performers.  For example, employees in the IT industry generally need a high level of technical expertise to do the job and can be counted as a base skill set. The differentiating skill sets include attributes such as taking initiative, continuous self-improvement, team working skills which are all emotional competencies. To put it another way, if you're a scientist, you probably needed an IQ of 120 or so simply to get a doctorate and a job. But then it is more important to be able to persist in the face of difficulty and to get along well with colleagues and subordinates than it is to have an extra 10 or 15 points of IQ. The same is true in many other occupations.

EI is the ability to sense and leverage the power of human emotions. It’s a portfolio of skills, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. People with high EI competency understand themselves — their values, how they make decisions, and what motivates them. They know how to keep their emotions in check and remain calm and clear-headed when working with others. They have a tremendous capacity to understand and appreciate other perspectives, as well as the skills to build relationships. They understand how they affect others and can use that influence positively. And unlike IQ, emotional intelligence is something that can be developed through focused coaching. Even the best managers and leaders have areas of weakness, or at least non-strengths, that with careful attention and feedback can get better.


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Wednesday May 28, 2008

Quality Fest 08

Its a festive season at the Sun India Engineering Center (IEC) with the Quality Forum's mega event, "The Quality Fest 08" scheduled to begin on the 2nd of June.

A core team of very talented and committed volunteers are at work behind the scenes handling all of the myriad tasks and responsibilities required to make this event possible. Unlike other Quality Forum events which are generally targeted at professionals from the Quality & Testing function, this Fest is for everyone irrespective of their functional affiliation. The Fest provides an excellent opportunity to know the various Quality & Testing teams that are present at IEC, the wide range of tools & techniques being used by the different teams, and generally gain a lot of insight into the Quality & Testing function.

Some of the main activities that are part of this event include, Road shows by the different Quality Teams, Demonstration of various Tools being used by the different teams, Tech talk and Panel discussion on a very relevant and interesting subject pertaining to Quality by Senior Professionals from different functions. Oh! and if you are wondering if there's anything else to make the "Fest" festive, wonder not ... there are fun activities interspersed with the other events and some serious prizes to be won too.

You'll be amazed at the number of Quality teams we have at the IEC, the products & technologies they work upon, the gamut of tools used and generally gaining newer perspectives around & greater insights into the Testing function. So, if you are at the IEC, this is one not-to-be-missed event.

While on the subject of Quality, here's a quote attributed to Steve Jobs to sign off this post - “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.

Sunday Feb 03, 2008

Quality Forum


Here's a little sneak peek into the wonderful world of Quality & Testing at Sun's India Engineering Center (IEC) based at Bangalore. Did you ever realize that the IEC has a group comprising ~ 200 of the finest & most talented Quality Professionals on the planet, all based at one location, collaborating, thriving, creating & sharing best practices, working on a mind boggling range of technologies and areas spanning the entire gamut of Software, Storage and Systems, employing the best of breed tools and state-of-the-art techniques?

If you are wondering whether such a conglomeration could even exist ... the answer is, a resounding Yes! Not only does this group exist, it is today a very vibrant & thriving forum and is called "The Quality Forum" based at the Sun India Engineering Center, Bangalore.

Now that i've mentioned about the Quality Forum, let me give a little more info on this special group. There's so much to be said about this forum, but rather than continue harping about the Quality Forum at the IEC, here's a brief sample of some of the activities that the forum is currently driving - the Sharing initiative which enables sharing between Professionals across the various teams that are part of the forum, Training programs for Quality Engineers especially the folks who are relatively new to Testing to help accelerate their evolution into expert Testing Professionals, Participation at Industry conferences, Conducting Bug bash / Beta testing events across the entire forum, Quality & Testing events to show case the activities being performed by various groups, and many more.

This quote by William Foster seems pretty apt to say here ... “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”

Oh ! just one other thing that i thought was obvious but should mention now ... hey, I too am a proud member of this turbo-charged forum ! and am having a fantabulous time being part of this amazing community.

Saturday Jan 12, 2008

Unwind

I recently chanced upon a piece of writing that had tips to Un-wind and De-stress. Would we have need to think of ways to un-wind if we did not get ourselves all wound up in the first place or have the regular need to de-stress, if we did not get so stressed out ? Generally, we do not require much external assistance and are very capable of getting wound up or stressed out, all by ourselves.

Its probably in the nature of our existence, the paths we traverse, the choices we make (or not make) ... is there a way out ? Are we destined to play the role of the proverbial mice that follow the pied piper marching to his tune at his pace, along with the mechanical multitude or do we set our own pace and trace our own paths, based on our realization of our ability to choose ?

I'm sure we all agree that for the most part, our lives are anything but Simple.

Most of us lead, complicated lives. We even tend to subscribe to the view that we are complex beings, with complex thought processes, designed to solve complex problems employing complicated methods; we tend to remain in the relentless pursuit of "more", seeking more of the good, the bad and the ugly. Gimme more, seems to be the common refrain. Have we paused to consider that there could be other options. More need not always be better; Less could be more and at times, better. Any resemblance to an oxymoron here, is intended. Savor this thought in the inner recesses of your mind and allow it to linger around those vast spaces ...


Whilst on the subject of simplicity, here are some thoughts from the world around, which could be useful.




  • Recognize that the primary purpose of work is not money. Its about finding meaning, enabling you to learn, contribute, grow and your well-being.

  • Celebrate the ordinary. You will have many more occasions to rejoice.

  • Be fully present in every situation and give your all to any & every thing you choose to do. Resist the urge to mimic the computer a.k.a. the tendency to use your perceived ability to effectively multi-task by way of trying to do many things all at the same time and not being really focussed on any thing.

  • Develop the habit of patience. Some times it does take a while. Instant gratification is not always possible, feasible nor a good option to hanker after.

  • Know thyself, your limits, what you can & cannot do well. Knowledge can be liberating.

  • While there's a time to work and a time to play, it's not always the case that these two need to be distinct entities. Explore ways to merge both; make work fun, engaging and something to look forward to.

  • Do not take yourself too seriously.

  • Realize that some bit of solitude is actually nourishing. Get alone and by yourself. Savor your own company, you might even get to love knowing and being with your self.

  • Whoever said, Silence is golden, is ... right. The power of silence to enrich your life, needs experiencing. Get away from the noises around you and get in touch with yourself.

  • Take time to be like a child. Indulge, let go & stop worrying about what others will think. Life will seem a lot better, simpler and nicer through the eyes of a child.

  • Do manual work. Use your hands more often to do physical activity. You are never too big to do the seemingly little things.

  • Value non-material possessions too. They are usually cheaper and last way longer than most material possessions.

  • Live a purposeful life. Meaningless existence & mind-numbing activity tend to sap our life forces and energies leaving us in a constant state of boredom and tiredness with little or no incentive to do anything creative or useful.

  • Doing nothing, at times, is a valuable thing. Give yourself little slots of time to do nothing.

  • Avoid pretending to be something you are not. It takes away a lot of burden off your shoulders. Accept your shortcomings and work on improving. A related quote on this would be ... "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

  • And do ask if you really need more ?



Saturday Nov 03, 2007

Birds, Bird-brains and worms ...

"The early bird catches the worm" - so they say ... and what have we here - many gullible denizens of our planet, falling hook, line and sinker for it and taking it literally.


No, i'm not against punctual behavior. I have the highest regard for the folks who tend to be punctual and value both their and others' time.


I'm for editing the above saying and adding in an extra word to clarify as "The early bird catches the early worm". Now we can see that the early bird has caught the "early worm".


Being early had different outcomes for the bird and the worm. No doubt the early bird might have rejoiced, but am not sure the early worm liked the result of its early foray. In life, it helps to take a moment to analyze your circumstances and think if at a given point of time, you are the bird or the worm ... while generally its great to be in the limelight and the center of attention, there are occasions when a little obscurity would help.


Reminds me of the fairly well known story about the mighty oak and the reeds ... for those who aren't in the know, here's a quick summary ... its a tale of a mighty oak tree that was proud of its ability to stand tall and strong against the winds that blew at it and the humble reeds that bent with the wind. A particularly strong gale brought the oak to its knees ... literally. The mighty oak had to give in. All its strength could not help withstand the mighty forces of nature, whereas the reeds suffered little or no damage. At this juncture the fallen oak asks the reeds how a humble and weak plant like the reed could survive the strongest of gales and live to see another day while the mighty oak was humbled ... the key lies in the behaviors exhibited by the reeds and the oak ... the oak resisted when resistance was not the brightest thing to be doing whereas the reeds were flexible, they bent and went with the flow .... what i'm driving at is this - sometimes its good to go with the flow, sometimes its good to stand out. There's a time to resist, a time to bend ... no one action or behavior suits all circumstances.


The ability to be flexible, the ability to discern and act appropriately as the situation demands, is key to being counted amongst the fittest who survive and possibly thrive.


I'll sign-off this post with an interesting innerspace quote ... "It's good to have an opinion isn't it? If you don't have an opinion about important issues you are seen as weak - right? This is how people justify holding an opinion about anything and everything. But wait a second - in the moment of expressing your opinion, if it is the defence of a position, or it's designed to be against another opinion, it is nothing more than an attachment. And this means fear is present. It means insecurity. This may explain why those who have the same opinions form pressure groups and factions, and why there is usually a great deal of emotion and conflict present. It may explain why there is much wailing and weeping, loud words and the crossing of swords whenever, opposing opinions meet. Much better to have a point of view, and to be extremely interested in others points of view. This says, "I am flexible", it says, "I have the humility to learn", and it says, "I seek to meet you on the ground we share, as opposed to fight you from a proclaimed territory." 



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