Being Emotionally Intelligent Is Important - Part 2
While attending an Executive Education Program at Harvard Kennedy School of Governance, we were given an emotional intelligence test - http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/mite/ wherein we were shown a pair of eyes with four choices of emotions being depicted by that pair of eyes. We were shown 20 pairs, 10 seconds each to tick the answer we felt was right.
The top five scorers were women and the highest score was a seventeen over twenty. A higher score meant a higher & deeper understanding of other people. In other words, it showed the higher emotional intelligence of women.
While the previous article emphasised on self-awareness and self-management, I will focus on remaining two parameters of emotional intelligence – social awareness and social skills in this article.
Social Awareness: Women are conditioned to put others before them. They think about needs of their family members before their own. When they walk into corridors of power, they still think about other team members, subordinates and staff members before themselves. Women leaders empathise better than the male counterparts and it becomes their asset. They put themselves in others’ shoes and understand their stories. They care more and their actions reflect their empathy. Apart from empathy, social awareness includes organisational awareness and service - orientation.
It has always been an area of concern that number of women at senior levels in any organisation is negligible as compared to the number of women at the entry level. Though the reasons cited for this anomaly are many, ranging from ‘their family responsibilities’ to ‘their lack of ambition’, I feel that women lack organisational awareness – the ability to read the currents of organisational life, build decision networks and navigate politics. It is further fuelled by attitude of men in senior positions who do not take conscious interest in mentoring women professionals.
From the beginning of their careers, women need to keep voicing their career plans. They should distinguish between long term and short term goals and build their profile and make networking a routine and priority activity.
Many women have conveyed it through their experiences that male bonding during informal get-togethers, off sites impacts decision making, tuning the women contenders out of major assignments. We, as women, must keep pushing gently into organisational politics by staying aware about what is happening around.
What women lose in organisational awareness, they make up for it through their excellent service orientation. Being excellent at recognising other’s needs, they gauge customers’ needs better and ensure customer satisfaction.
Chanda Kochar & Shikha Sharma, mentored by ICICI’s Ex-Chairman KV Kamath are known for their excellent service orientation.
Young working women must keep their social awareness high by being empathetic, service oriented and aware about organisational networks and politics.
Social Skills: Emotional Intelligence gives an edge to a working woman and sets her apart from the rest. A woman like Sheryl Sandberg is extremely emotionally intelligent as she manifests superb social skills. She shows visionary leadership by inspiring others with her compelling vision.
She has started “Lean In Circles” which are small peer groups that meet regularly to learn and share from working women. A circle can be a monthly round table at a member’s house, a regular lunch or even a virtual meet–up. I see many enterprising young women in the digital space who are providing much needed support to young women entrepreneurs on sites like Mompreneurs India and many such groups. These groups have thousands of young women members who act as catalysts for each other and support each other to excel.
Indian women should strive to create a unified voice which communicates ‘a clear passionate wish for professional advancement’. Since many women do not promote each other, get into petty arguments, they lose the big chunk of professional pie. A network of emotional intelligent women would be high on communication. ‘Women talk in kilograms but communicate in milligrams’ is the general conventional idea which needs to change.
We, as women, must develop listening skills and skills to send clear, convincing and well – tuned messages.
If women become better conflicts managers, nobody would be able to hinder their career goals. It is important for us to learn to de-escalate disagreements and orchestrate resolutions. Being assertive but not aggressive is the key to express our emotions in a dignified manner.
Digital development has enabled women to network with ease and stay abreast with everything happening around them. Earlier, a woman at home would be disconnected from the professional front and thus lagged behind after a few years.
Now, a woman who decides to extend her maternity break or takes a sabbatical for adolescent children/elderly parents stays in touch with her colleagues and connects with many others through different online groups, meet-ups and blogging sites.
A Mom Bloggers Club connects more than 23,000 women online to give them a global exchange of ideas and support.
Groups of women entrepreneurs on social networking sites empower them to showcase their business products and services while staying at home. Enterprising women are ready to network with other women through these online enablers which are transparent and ethical. The admins of such groups ensure that rules are obeyed by all community members. They manage the groups with utmost sincerity and focus.
Know yourself, dwell deep within to discover yourself, connect with people, offer your empathy and understanding, create your online and offline presence, feel confident and act motivated wherever you are.
It is not difficult for a woman to practise emotional intelligence if she decides to do so. What are you waiting for?
By Dr. Swati Lodha