Work smarter not harder! We’ve all heard that expression, but what does that really mean and how do you actually do that? One way to think about working smarter is to leverage your strengths and intentionally minimize what you don’t do best.

Since most of us have biases and blind spots about our own strengths and how our personality and habits impact others, we need input—a reality check! Input from others also helps to build our Self-Awareness, a cornerstone of Emotional Intelligence—the set of skills that influence our ability to cope with life’s various demands and pressures.

One of the most effective tools for providing objective feedback about a leader’s emotional intelligence and leadership performance is the EQ 360 assessment. The EQ 360 provides each participant with feedback about his/her strengths and improvement areas by collecting insights from various colleagues, ranging from peers and direct reports to supervisors and customers.

The results are quite surprising, often revealing ways the leader contributes to the people and the overall culture as well as behavioral patterns that diminish their impact.

I worked with Rachel, the president of a successful research firm, who was frustrated by her difficulty in influencing her staff. Rachel had high skills in interpersonal relationships, creativity, and impulse control. However, her influencing and problem solving skills were weakened by her inability to transparently express her emotions, have confrontational conversations, and address conflicts. Rachel was surprised to find that this area limited her, as she prided herself on containing her emotions and being appropriate and diplomatic.

In the past, Rachel had focused on educating her staff and building collegial relationships. However, when she asked them to respond to the EQ 360, she found that they were disappointed and confused because they couldn’t read her and were frustrated that she did not address team members who were disruptive or underperforming. In response, Rachel began giving honest feedback to each of her key people and sharing her thoughts in team meetings. The group felt relieved that they could now solve problems because they were being effectively addressed, and Rachel no longer had to spend so much time trying to put out fires.

As Rachel discovered, leaders must attend to the tough business of asking for feedback and then acting on it.

Elaine Morris
Executive coach and positive intelligence expert

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Elaine Morris is a master-level emotional intelligence and executive coach who brings more than 30 years of experience to upper level executives and their teams.

Elaine Morris