By: Lori Ciccarelli

Experts in the field of leadership believe that truly effective leaders possess a high level of emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) focusing on self and relationship management. It’s about social competence. Raising a child with autism has assisted with elevating my own emotional intelligence.

The 5 Components of EQ
Dr. Daniel Goleman, psychologist, brought EQ to the mainstream public in 1995. His research concluded that EQ is made up of five components:

4.empathy skills

Those with a high sense of self-awareness understand how their emotions impact others and their job performance; they can regulate their feelings successfully. How we manage our emotions or regulate them makes the difference for leadership success. Goleman states that without EQ, a person can have the best training, analytical mind and be good technically, but won’t make a great leader. Some leaders possess these traits naturally; however, can EQ be learned?

How to Teach EQ
As I started training leaders in the corporate setting with regard to EQ, I realized that there was not much offered on “how” to raise EQ. There are countless articles and books that address “what” it is but no real tools offered to improve EQ. I started thinking about tools used with Social Cognitive Deficit Disorders (SCDD) since it is about social competence. Over the decades these tools became ingrained in me as I taught my son, which in turn assisted to raised my own EQ. The best way to learn is to teach. Since the components that support EQ equate to social competence, then why couldn’t these tools used for SCDD work to raise EQ? I started bringing forward these techniques in my leadership and customer service development trainings which have proven to be very successful. Those who attend my classes are excited to head back to their jobs with tools for success.

?Empathy: Tools that have shown success include Michelle Garcia Winners’ perspective-taking behavioral map to enhance empathy. This tool helps one visually and concretely map out behaviors by showing “how” it can make others feel and the consequences or outcomes associated with them. Taking it a step further with my audiences, I ask them to develop a plan in which to display empathy better the next time.
?Social Skills: Another effective strategy to help develop appropriate social skills was created by Winners; imaginary “friend files” in the brain. This technique helps store information about others to help initiate conversations. This interactive exercise of getting to know someone by interviewing them, writing down three items about that person, and then storing the information in an imaginary file in the brain help to initiate future conversations. Also, one can keep a journal or card index file to help organize “friend” information.
?Self Regulation: The Incredible 5-point Scale developed by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis can help regulate moods recognizing and managing emotional responses. This tool focuses on the “how” by rating the mood on a scale according to intensity and matching it to solutions. According to the authors, how we act, react, and interact in difficult situations depends on our ability to quickly and efficiently assess what is happening and consider the consequences of our actions. I have found this tool to be extremely effective.

As we focus on social competence for our kids with Social Cognitive Deficit Disorders, we can also benefit by raising our own emotional intelligence. A key to effective leadership.