When you apply for a new job you may be asked to undertake an EI (EQ) test – Emotional Intelligence. The test is designed to gather information how well you will work with others, your ability to use non-verbal cues to read situations and make assumptions on how you will likely work through challenging personnel situations. I’ve done the test a few times, each time with different results. Sometimes I get a great score, but most recently my score was about half its usual ranking. I consider myself to be an empathetic person, someone who can understand the needs of others and determine a way to help them that is respectful and supportive. So why did I score so badly in the last opportunity to take the test???
First I blamed the rock, a few of the questions asked me to assess the emotions of a picture featuring a rock. Stupid rock!!!! But after some recent research into EI I realised it is important to understand that it isn’t just about my awareness of others – reading their non-verbal cues, understanding where they are coming from and reading their tone and voice levels. It is more about reading my own emotions. You can’t offer other people your best self, until you can work out how to first recognise your best self.
How do I feel about something? What is happening behind the scenes in my life that might influence my thinking, and more importantly, my feeling? Self-awareness is a such a key leadership skill to develop.
Reflecting back on what was happening at the time I completed the EI test, there was a lot going on. We were operational, for the first time as a Zone. I was working night shifts as the Ops Commander (I’m a terrible night shift worker), and I had to provide extra information quickly for an EOI to work in the DZC role. On top of this, my Mum had been very ill only a few weeks before and I was worried about her too. In short, there was a lot going on.
So, looking back, doing an EI test in this environment, with all that going on was always going to yield some unusual results. With greater self-awareness, I realise I can give a lot to others, but if I don’t keep some for myself too, I am not going to be the best version of myself as a leader. What’s happening around me is just as important as the actions I take and decisions I make.
We all have different EI traits. You can’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself. But when you do compare yourself to yourself, remember that the outside is always going to influence the inside in some way, shape or form.
To find out some simple strategies for developing greater self-awareness, check out the below suggestions from Mind Tools.