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Could lack of Emotional Intelligence cost you your job?

ESPN staff writer Phil Sheridan noted that Chip Kelly’s “lack of EQ” was the root of his failure as a coach and ultimately the poor performance of the team (see the article “Chip Kelly’s Perception becomes the Eagles’ reality”).  Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie indicated that someone who can interact and communicate well with everyone in the organization is essential.  And he said, “you’ve got to open your heart to players to achieve peak performance.” Coach Kelly was seen as difficult to approach, disengaged with their personal needs, and generally disconnected with the way players were feeling.  Sheridan made the insightful observation that whatever the perceptions of players and staff may have had of the coach, he was responsible to know these, which he apparently did not.

Squandering Talent

Here we have yet another example of expertise (as a sports coach), many talented players, and all of this talent and expertise are squandered because of a missing essential ingredient: emotional intelligence.  And the same can be noted about many “teams” in just about any organization—expertise abounds, talent is plentiful but poorly developed relationships among all those involved result in mediocre performance.  

In the last two years, every executive, team leader, and agency head with whom I’ve worked who was in trouble in his or her organization, had poor EQ related skills. When I interview individuals who work with managers with higher turnover rates, greatly reduced discretionary effort on the part of team members, and low performing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), the issues are the failure of relationships and poor people skills behavior.  We KNOW this issue is powerful and important but we seem not to know what to DO ABOUT IT.

There is Hope

The good news is that the behaviors can be developed if an individual (coach, executive, team lead) is an agile learner.  For example, in the case of Coach Kelly’s problems, he exhibited the following poorly executed EQ Competencies:  Adaptability, Compassion, Active Empathy, Flexibility, Group Savvy, insightfulness, Interpersonal Savvy, Listening Generously, Openness to Others, Accurate Self-Assessment, Self-Awareness, and Social Intelligence.

For the last 20 years I’ve been paying close attention to the research on emotions and emotional intelligence.  Initially, the scientific community—and some current members— still argue that emotional intelligence is a shaky concept. 

Everyone essentially agrees that the core of emotional intelligence is that there is information in emotions and our task is to learn to recognize and utilize that information.  The following list of findings is generally accepted:

  • there are a few, basic emotions which have neurological and biological patterns: anger, joy, disgust, …….. (see Pearman, Understanding Emotions).

  • information in emotions is very consistent—for example, anger typically means an individual feels an agreement has been violated, values violated, or unfairly treated (see Darwin's initial findings in,  Expressions of the Emotions).

  • the triggers for emotions vary by personality—the same event that prompts anger in one individual does not do so for another individual (see Pearman’s Introduction to Type and Emotional Intelligence).

  • there appear to be eight specific abilities essential to emotional intelligence such as the ability to read emotions in others (see work by Mayer, Salovey, Caruoso).

  • personality is a mediator of emotional prompts, reactions, expressions, and behaviors (research any finding connecting personality and EQ)

  • expressions of behaviors are revealed in complex behaviors (Darwin, Expressions of the Emotions, Aanstad, Corbett, Jourdan, and Pearman, People Skills Handbook: Improving Your Emotional Intelligence.

The Future is Bright

The relationship between expressed behaviors and outcomes on others has been researched in a thousand different forums.  This evidence was the basis for the EQ Competencies embedded in the Matrix Insights platform.  Within this platform, 54 EQ competencies are available to review  and a learning path is provided to deeply and dynamically learn about how to express these behaviors more effectively.  

Matrix Insights ( is a digital platform where individuals self-assess, add 360-assessments, and take a personalized deep dive on the nature of a mission critical EQ behavior with actionable micro-learning tips for becoming effective in that skill.

A small minority of people perceive a Herculean task in learning how to be a better reader of others, to listen more generously, and demonstrate regard. But we find that the vast majority—85% of us—can learn to demonstrate EQ behaviors with proficiency and effectiveness.

Nothing described about Coach Kelly’s behavior and all of the leaders we’ve worked with has to be an unchanged story.  Individuals can decide to identify the behaviors and the kind of learning that enable those behaviors to be realized in day to day interactions.

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