Woman shouting

Emotional Intelligence

Are you known for being strong or for your strength?

I had an interesting conversation recently with one of my clients about the difference between personality and emotional intelligence.

My client was confused by some of her 360 feedback. On the one hand she was told she is considered a strong personality amongst the leadership team which she was quite pleased with – she’d hate to be ‘beige’. However, in the same feedback she was told she needs to work on her leadership qualities in order to reach the next level.

When she asked for clarification it became clearer – she is passionate and driven but appears inflexible, with a tendency to over-assert rather than listen. Not wanting to miss out on a promotion she asked me for help. The first things we did was talk about how the solution lay in her ability to apply her emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is the name given to a wide range of traits, skills and behaviours that relate to an individual’s understanding of and ability to harness their emotions, natural responses and behavioural triggers in different situations. 

Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence tend to remain appropriately calm and positive, adapt well to change, take a curious and creative approach to problem solving, and develop trusted relationships, evidenced by their strong network of personal supporters across the business. 

Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence understand the impact they have on others and adapt their communication styles to ensure their counterpart feels respected and valued, even if viewpoints and approaches are markedly different. They are characterised by their confident and inclusive approach which means they lead with consistency and purpose whilst being empathetic and approachable, inviting as well as giving feedback, displaying a growth mindset and always seeking to develop themselves as well as those around them. 

Under pressure, leaders with a ‘strong personality’ might shout loudly to get things done and unwittingly pass negative energy onto others. Leaders with ‘strength of personality’ display high level of resilience in challenging situations and inspire confidence and motivation through their consistently balanced approach. They show energy and passion whilst remaining visibly in control of their emotions, actions and decisions. They may not shout the loudest, but they become the beacon of strength for those around them. 

My client was disheartened and frustrated: ‘This is the way I am, maybe this is the wrong culture for me, my strengths have got me where I am today, why should I change now?

However, despite her initial despair, she recognised the value of her colleagues’ feedback and decided she would make some conscious changes. And she was right to be optimistic – with the right mindset and motivation we can all learn to develop and apply our emotional intelligence for mutual benefit. 

By becoming more aware of her triggers and emotional responses, and by learning techniques to regulate her reactions, she found she had better control of herself and the situation and that her stress levels dropped significantly as a result. 

Feedback from those around her indicates that her change in approach has been noticed and is appreciated. Feedback from my client confirms she believes the changes she’s made have enhanced rather than diluted her personality. She’s definitely not ‘beige’ and is looking forward to her next promotion.


DRIVE Emotional Intelligence

At DRIVE we work with individuals and teams on their Emotional Intelligence to help them become more successful than they ever expected in communicating, influencing and creating more satisfying relationships.

We help identify how traits, beliefs and value judgements work to the individual’s advantage or disadvantage in different settings and contexts. Using scientifically proven tools we provide powerful insights into their natural EI traits, leading to a deeper understanding of their individual profile. Together we identify and master changes in attitude and behaviour that will really make a difference both in and out of work.