Emotional Intelligence & Leadership

May 23, 2016 in HR Best Practices



What makes great leadership?

A razor-sharp intellect? Absolutely.

Big-picture thinking? Of course.

A charismatic persona? Without a doubt.

A steely imperviousness to emotion?

Let’s think about that last one for a minute.

Conventional wisdom says that emotional intelligence (commonly referred to as EQ), though beneficial in helping professions, can be a liability in executive-level positions. But research paints a different picture. PepsiCo, for example, found that executives identified as “emotionally intelligent” were 10% more productive and added nearly $4 million in economic value.

Why is EQ such an essential leadership attribute?

People with high emotional intelligence:

  • Understand their own emotions. Beyond this, they’re also able to adjust their behaviors so that the way they feel doesn’t lead them to behave in unreasonable or counterproductive ways.
  • Can read others’ emotions well. This empathy makes them less likely to jump to conclusions or make hasty judgments. As a result, individuals with high EQ are more likely to see beyond the “symptoms” of highly charged emotions and get to the root cause fueling them.
  • Admit and learn from mistakes. Emotionally intelligent professionals take criticism well. They listen effectively (paying attention to the emotions behind others’ words). They discuss and respect others’ viewpoints. And unlike those with low EQ, they avoid placing blame when mistakes occur. Instead, they view conflicts and problems as learning experiences – seeking ways to prevent them from happening again.

Not surprisingly, people with high emotional intelligence are better able to manage work relationships. By understanding the role emotion plays in the workplace, they react appropriately and more effectively. As a result, they are perceived as strong and authentic – and people naturally want to follow their leadership.

Looking for your food & beverage organization’s next great leader?

Here are three interview questions you can ask to assess emotional intelligence in your executive food & beverage candidates:

  1. When has your mood impacted your performance – either positively or negatively? Look for answers that indicate an individual understands his emotions and is able to control his behavior in spite of them.
  2. Explain a business situation in which you said or did something that negatively affected a customer, peer or direct report. (Follow up questions) How did you know you impacted this person? What did you do about it? An emotionally intelligent candidate will explain the cues (e.g., body language, tone of voice, eye contact) he picked up on which indicated something was wrong. In addition, he will describe how he adjusted his own behavior to remedy the situation and prevent it from occurring again.
  3. Tell me about your prior work relationships. Candidates with high EQ are adept at forming and maintaining friendships both on and off the job. Lasting friendships in the workplace are signs that an individual cares about people and understands how to mesh with a company’s culture.

Hiring? Trust your executive food & beverage search to Kinsa. With 100 years of combined experience, our specialized recruiters can help you acquire proven leaders with the skills, expertise, and emotional intelligence to thrive in your organization. There’s an ideal out there – let Kinsa help you find it. Contact us.