The Key to Effective Leadership is Emotional Intelligence

The Key to Effective Leadership is Emotional Intelligence

As a female physician, you have been required to rely on the strength of your IQ. Making a diagnosis, doing calculations and delivering a convincing argument all require use of IQ. And when you want to lead a team or influence others to follow your lead, another kind of intelligence is needed- emotional intelligence. That is can be a problem, because as a physician, mostly your IQ intelligence has been valued. But, the key to effective leadership relies on emotional intelligence.

The impact of emotional intelligence, which many women are naturally good at, may already be the source of your success and you aren’t even aware of it. This week I was speaking to Dr. Elaine who had recently completed an interim role as Medial Director. Her department was preparing for a quality survey. Long hours, and even weekends, would be required to catch up on the backlog of charts. She worked right along side the staff and even brought in pizza to make those long evenings a little more enjoyable. When the office clerk was having a problem with her child, Dr. Elaine sent her home to take care of the situation. The stressed clerk expressed her appreciation with a look of gratitude.

Dr. Elaine told me that this interim position had been the most rewarding work she had done in a long time. The staff had pulled together as a team, and together they had accomplished an unbelievable amount of work. When the acting Medical Director returned from leave he asked her, “ What did you do to get such amazing results?” She couldn’t explain the source of her success. She was asking me as a coach to help her understand what she had done so she could do it again!

What made the difference? Emotional intelligence explains why despite equal intelligence, training, or experience, some people succeed while don’t. In fact, 90% of the difference between outstanding and average leaders is linked to EQ. Dr. Elaine paid attention to the personal needs and perspective of her team. Her behavior demonstrated that she cared about each person as an individual. Attending to the emotional needs of the team created the commitment, engagement and collaboration needed to get the job done.

The Majority of Competencies Needed for Successful Leadership are EQ in Nature.

Typically, we want to share what we know so others trust our expertise. You need to flip your focus from IQ to EQ if you want others to follow you as a leader. Theodore Roosevelt said it best, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

To read more content about leading change, click here.

Making Decisions with Emotions

Making Decisions with Emotions

Emotions can give you an advantage in decision making if you make proper use of them.

We’re constantly faced with too much information to process consciously. If your brain comes across something it appraises as a “red flag,” you’ll be sent a message in the form of feelings and thoughts that are created by an emotion. This imprecise signal alerts you to pay attention.

Last week we explored self-awareness, key to the development of the other three domains of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). With awareness, you can apply self-management, the next domain of EQ, and make an emotionally intelligent decision.

Near the end of her team meeting, Lynn was noticing her flushed face and sweaty palms – clues she was on the verge of an emotional outburst. Only 5 years out of medical school, the memory of her crazy work schedule was still acute. In medical school she had felt helpless to do anything about her schedule, now she did have influence and options.

Try This:

In less than 10 seconds you can ask yourself:

  • How do I feel about this situation? Lynn felt unimportant, like her physical and emotional needs did not matter.
  • What do I think I should do about it? Getting mad would feel good but not get the results she wanted. Exploring what was getting in the way of a decision could yield results.
  • What effect would that have for me and for other people? Finding the real source of the obstacles would yield a solution. Lynn would practice separating past situations from the present.
  • Does this action fit with my values? Lynn valued a collaborative decision that worked over a temporary Band-Aid fix.

The best decisions are a balance of emotion and logic. Pay attention to the information your body provides and then engage your logical mind!

Emotions are Your Guide to Success

Emotions are Your Guide to Success

We start our exploration of EQ (emotional intelligence) with self-awareness. This ability sets the foundation to become proficient in the other three domains of EQ!

Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself as others see you. It is the ability to make an accurate assessment of your emotions in the moment and
across a variety of situations.

Mad, Sad, Glad, Scared: emotions just happen. They are a mental state that arise spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and are usually accompanied by physiological changes. Can you see yourself in Lynn’s situation?

Lynn is employed as a hospitalist. Today was the third time in as many months the on-call rotation schedule was on the Team Meeting agenda. The meeting was coming to a close and once again, no decision had been made.

Lynn had had enough! She could feel her face flushing, her hands starting to sweat. The physical response was familiar to Lynn – she knew she was about to say something she might regret.

Key Principles:

  • Noticing how your body responds is key to being proficient at using your emotions as information.
  • Emotions are strongly linked to memory and experience. If something bad has previously happened to you, your emotional response to the same stimulus is likely to be strong.
  • Emotions are closely linked to values: an emotional response could tell you that one of your key values has been challenged.


Try This:

Take a moment to notice your emotional response and consider what might be behind them – values, memories or experiences.

Your emotional responses don’t necessarily have much to do with the current situation, or to reason, but you can manage them with reason and by being aware of your reactions. Controlling your emotions doesn’t work. Exploring and understanding the link to memories and values is key to managing your emotional response.

Women Have an EQ Advantage

Women Have an EQ Advantage

Academic or cognitive intelligence alone is no longer enough to be successful in medicine. EQ (emotional intelligence) is required of all physicians and will lead you to healthy relationships and resilience with the trials of your life and career in medicine.

A 2006 sample study of 946 participants with researcher Peter Salovey found significantly higher scores obtained by women on overall scales of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Current literature demonstrates that men and women have different kinds of Emotional Intelligence. Women have much stronger interpersonal skills than their male counterparts but men have significantly higher sense of self and independence.

What impact will this have in healthcare workplaces? In the past men have dominated the top positions of influence. Now in healthcare environments, where a culture of teamwork and partnerships are valued, people skills are seen as important. Women’s higher scores in the interpersonal areas will now help them reach higher levels in the corporate world.

What is EQ and Why Does it Matter?

In the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves define emotional intelligence (EQ) as “your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” Their research has shown that EQ accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs. In addition, EQ is the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.

EQ can be broken down into four main domains under Personal and Social Competence.

Personal Competence

  • Self-awareness (emotions)
  • Self-management (behaviors and tendencies)

Social Competence

  • Social awareness (understand others moods and behaviors)
  • Relationship management (manage interactions with others)

In the next few blogs, we will explore each element and what it means to your success!

Your Emotional Intelligence Determines Your Team’s Success

Your Emotional Intelligence Determines Your Team’s Success

Intelligent, dedicated physicians are frustrated with getting results to improve both patient care and financial outcomes. Nevertheless, physicians who feel better about themselves and their results are alike in one crucial way: They use their emotional intelligence.

Today’s leaders require more than vision and a high IQ. Today’s physicians get results with support and participation of a diverse team. How well you manage yourself and your relationships is a key predictor of success for your teams.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

In his worldwide best-seller, Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., explains that emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognize and use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

In another of his books, “Working with Emotional Intelligence,” Goleman demonstrates that EQ represented 67% of abilities necessary for superior performance in leaders, and mattered twice as much as technical expertise or IQ.

Logic And Emotional Context Help To Solve Challenges

The partial picture from the logical mind about you or your co-workers has to be accompanied by your emotional content. When you understand the whole picture, you have more potential to solve the most challenging issues, which often are people problems!

A Mindful Difference: React vs Respond

We often react defensively when uncomfortable with what is being said or done.

Responding is more thoughtful, more intentional, more active, and guided by logic. A thoughtful response maintains relationships and maintains progress toward your bigger goals.

Avoid Getting Triggered, And Get Better Results

Silvia Dias, the Medical Director of Urology in a large teaching hospital, is struggling to implement much needed changes within her department. Her new nurse manager is inexperienced, which frustrates Dr. Dias and reflects poorly in Dr. Dias’ role.

More than once, Dr. Dias has said things she regretted to her new nurse. The strained relationship has brought progress on departmental goals to a slow idle.

As we discussed Dr. Dias’ feelings and reactions to her nurse, we uncovered her desire to let the nurse know she was not doing a good job. The feeling under her reaction originated in frustration she felt having no input into hiring a key team member. Dr. Dias committed to more intentional responses to the nurse, in hopes of improving the relationship and outcome of team meetings.

Presence Is Key To Accessing Your Emotional Intelligence

Goleman reported that by “using EQ, people motivate themselves to persist in face of frustration; regulate their moods and keep distress from swamping their ability to think and empathize and hope.”

Emotional intelligence is about self-awareness, managing emotions, and handling relationships. Employ the following keys to gain access to your emotional intelligence and stay resilient implementing change:

  • Pay attention to the sensations in your body, and they will reveal what emotional feelings are going on beneath the surface. These sensations may seem tense, light, heavy, or pressure.
  • Adopt a practice of self-reflection to learn what triggers you. Focus on questions, such as: “Which interactions did I feel best about today?” What was it that caused feelings of frustration or inadequacy?
  • Decide how you want to behave. You can’t help what emotions you feel, but you can decide how you want to react to them.

Emotional intelligence is important to physicians to keep momentum of teams moving positively forward. EQ improves your ability to manage your emotions, inspire and motivate staff, and build stronger relationships with team members.

Feelings Reveal Your Desires

Change Is Happening

Are you experiencing a change, or know you need to change, but feel conflicted?

When my husband interviewed for an out-of state job, my immediate responses were confusion and fear. How will we stay emotionally connected? Am I willing to move?

Are Your Feelings Confusing?

Talking to a colleague about the prospect of this change, I barely could hold back my tears. I paused to notice that I was feeling sadness at the possibility of re-location and concern about his career if he did not get the position. I was afraid of the unknown and also excited by opportunities in a bigger city.

We’ve all experienced emotional confusion. Maybe you’re confused about changing your practice, your career, or a significant relationship.

Importance of Identifying Feelings

Awareness of your feelings can drastically reduce stress and improve your responses. Although feelings seem like murky ground, power and clarity results when you acknowledge emotions.

Feelings are important because they alert us to a need. My sadness about the prospect of my husband relocating indicated my need for emotional connection. If I didn’t identify my underlying need, I was at risk of responding badly. My behavior might be to withdraw, when what I wanted was connection.

Noticing how you feel is required to replace non-productive behaviors of resistance, withdrawal, or attacking in the face of change.

Knowing Your Feelings

Emotional awareness is a skill that anyone can practice. By these methods, become more in touch with your emotions:

Notice and name your emotions. Notice your emotions as you feel them. Name them to yourself. Say, “I feel proud,” when a patient interaction goes well; or, “I feel disappointed” at not being selected for the committee.

Track one emotion. Pick a familiar emotion — like frustration — and track it throughout the day. Notice how often you feel it and the circumstances.

Build your emotional vocabulary. How many emotions can you name? To expand my awareness, I use a list I found on Google.

Keep a feelings journal. Take a few minutes each day to write about how you feel and why. Journaling your experiences and feelings builds your emotional awareness.

Be creative. As you read poetry or listen to music, try identifying the emotions an artist is trying to convey. Then recognize how you feel in response.

“Let’s shine the light of consciousness on places where we can hope to find what we are seeking.”

The words of Psychiatrist, Marshall Rosenberg, encapsulate how emotions can be a tool to help understand what is really going on in any particular situation. Ask questions, such as, “Why did I have this response?”, and “What can I learn from this?” Questions allow you to pay better attention to what’s happening, instead of just reacting to life’s circumstances.