The Value of Emotional Intelligence and Assessments

By Fran LaMattina, MCC, PhD

I have been practicing Executive Coaching for over 20 years. As my experience has deepened and I’ve tested much of the information about Emotional Intelligence in the “laboratory of my coaching practice,” I am amazed at how often the data about this leadership competency rings true in our day-to-day lives. In his classic Harvard Business Review article, What Makes a Leader?, Daniel Goldman clearly states that personal growth in emotional intelligence supersedes our technical competencies as we progress in our organizational leadership assignments. In other words, self-awareness, self management, empathy and social skills become more and more important as we expand the scope of our leadership roles. If we don’t intentionally grow in these areas, we will unintentionally disqualify ourselves from future opportunities and contributions in our organizations of choice.

I have observed that choosing to grow in Emotional Intelligence is a lifelong pursuit. We sometimes take two steps forward and one step back. Paying attention to our own intentions, actions and reactions, as well as the skills and motivations of others, requires a commitment to relationships, as well as results in our pursuit of excellence in performance. This is no small task. It feels arduous at times — especially when stress levels increase — but the benefits are cumulative and worth the effort.

One way to continue growing in Emotional Intelligence is through assessments. My personal philosophy is to take a new assessment each year to identify areas of growth that may have been hidden from us before. As the benefits of coaching have become more quantifiable in various organizations, many companies are expanding their use of assessments to aid their leaders in various ways.

For instance, the standard DiSC profile has now been expanded to provide specialized DiSC reports on Productive Conflict, Emotional Intelligence, and Management Competencies, to name a few. Each one provides different data and helpful ways to improve our influence in each area.

I have recently begun to dig in to the benefits of the Enneagram. This tool has taught me new ways that I can grow by presenting information about my wiring from a different perspective than the others. Strengths Finder highlights our skills and “highest and best” use of those talents in organizations, giving leaders help in assigning people to the best roles that can maximize strengths and improve overall performance.

Team assessments are also helpful. Patrick Lencioni has developed an assessment about team performance and how to improve overall team results. The teams that use it to their advantage have realized remarkable improvements in results both individually and collectively. In staying focused on teams, there is an assessment that can help in identifying the Ideal Team Player, which can be helpful in both hiring and development of individuals and teams. Last year, Patrick Lencioni introduced a new assessment called The Working Genius. This assessment can help leaders identify who the strategic and tactical thinkers are, as well as identifying the best makeup of teams in getting all aspects of the work flow represented on a project team.

Finally, the value of the individual Leadership 360 cannot be overstated. Those who courageously initiate feedback on their performance from their managers, peers, direct reports and other important stakeholders can benefit greatly from others’ input on their personal strengths and struggles. Serious leaders who are committed to personal growth and development are wise to solicit input from others about every three to five years, depending upon the need and changes in their careers over time.

As I’ve worked with leaders over the years, objective information about how we are wired and how others perceive us is a catalyst for personal growth. Those who avail themselves to the assessments that increase emotional intelligence have expanded their ability to work more effectively with others and become more comfortable in their own skin. If you haven’t committed yourself to the process yet, I strongly encourage you to hop on the bandwagon. You’ll be glad you did.

For more about emotional intelligence, and identifying and employing the best assessment tools for you and your team, schedule a consultation with Fran.