Leading Quality of People with High Emotional Intelligence

Inc. recently posted an article emphasizing the one powerful attribute people with high emotional intelligence have – self-awareness.

Most of us know people who are pretty smart in general and who can easily analyze the flaws of others, but struggle to apply that same analysis inward.

Sometimes it’s difficult to be self-aware, and it can be painful to really look at who you are through an unbiased lens. In fact, it’s almost impossible to evaluate yourself as clearly as others do. We all have “confirmation bias” – the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s preexisting beliefs or theories – which is often formed in childhood and influences everything we do, say, or believe. Personally, I try to force myself to be more self-aware, but I know I am not perfect at it and strive to improve every day.

If you have recurring patterns in life that are not what you want them to be (e.g. relationships, career, happiness, etc.) and you find yourself shifting responsibility to external factors/sources, try focusing that attention inward and becoming more self-aware.

Consider Steve Jobs, for example, he “needed to fail before he could develop more accurate self-awareness.” Jobs’ narcissism at Apple made it near impossible for him to effectively collaborate with others, a flaw that led to him being removed as head of his own company’s Mac division in 1985. It was during his tenure as Pixar’s CEO during the mid-90s that he learned to be more collaborative and cede some control to others, according to Lawrence Levy, Pixar’s CFO. The emotional maturity and management skills he acquired in the aftermath of his Apple ousting laid the foundation for his successful return to the company he founded in 1997.

In your own quest for self-awareness, here are some questions the Inc. article suggests asking yourself:

  1. Why do the same issues keep coming up over and over in my business/career, marriage, or life?
  2. Why do I respond to situations with anger, fear, optimism, or withdrawal? What are my triggers and why?
  3. What makes me think, act, and feel the way I do?
  4. What makes me tick? What pushes my buttons?
  5. What areas in my life can I improve or mask in my behaviors to make me more successful and happy?

I know it takes more than one article (or my little blog post) to change behavior. Still, if this is helpful to a handful of people, I will share that becoming more self-aware has helped me in my life and it is a worthy endeavor.