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Implementation - How to develop and/or enhance your own EQ skills or those of your staff

Katie Dearborn states "Traditional training curriculum and delivery around topics such as Effective Listening Skills and Interpersonal Communications fall short of developing emotional intelligence competencies...The 'one-size-fits-all' approach...is not ineffective as it ignores our individual complexities". She states that classroom learning is only part of the journey in developing EI competencies and that "Ultimately, self-awareness, self-directed learning, and practice with coaching create the results".

Goleman's work also calls for a less traditional approach, to one that features individualised and self-directed learning plans based upon assessment of the needed competences of the individual. His suggestions include using a form of needs assessment to identify personal EI strengths and gaps, creating a learning agenda to reduce any gaps, active and frequent practice and experimentation, and use of a coach to regularly benchmark progress.

Akers and Porter also support the importance of tailoring training in EQ competencies. They suggest the flowing checklist for emotional competencies training that they have adapted from Goleman's 1998 book 'Working with Emotional Intelligence':

  • Assess the job and design training based on the competencies needed for excellence in a given role or job;
  • Assess the individual, their strengths and limitations, and tailor training to those needs;
  • Deliver your assessments using all your EQ skills;
  • Gauge the individual's readiness for EQ training;
  • Motivate people to want to learn and highlight how training will pay off on the job or for the individual's careers, or be otherwise rewarding;
  • Make change self-directed and have individuals set their own goals for development. Provide assistance with planning for these goals;
  • Focus on clear and manageable goals and the specifics of the competency required;
  • Help to prevent relapses, and use lapses and slip-ups as lessons to prepare to do better next time;
  • Give performance feedback through coaching, mentoring, and progress reviews;
  • Encourage practice and promote naturally arising opportunities as times for practice of new skills;
  • Arrange support and encourage individuals to develop a network for support and encouragement such as buddies, coaches, or mentors;
  • Provide models for individuals of those who may be high-status or highly effective and that embody a specific competency - this can be used to help inspire change;
  • Encourage and provide an environment that supports, values, and provides a safe environment for the development of new competencies;
  • Encourage change that fits the values of the organisation and show that the competency matters to job placement, promotion, and performance review;
  • Reinforce chance through recognition, praise, a pay increase or added responsibility; and
  • Evaluate and measure progress, ideally before and after training and several months later, and if possible after 1-2 years.

One of the key domains of EQ is 'social awareness' and within this is the competency of empathy. Janet Macalusco (2003) views empathy as a crucial leadership skill and suggests the following strategies to increase this skill:

  • Pay attention to body language and notice both your own and others subtle shifts in facial expressions, eye contact, and energy levels;
  • Listen more than speaking and listen to tone of voice, intensity, and pace;
  • 'Get curious not furious' and reframe negative emotions into ones of curiosity;
  • Elicit pride in others;
  • Use silence;
  • Try to recognise people's feelings by observing them in public places and on TV;
  • Prepare for meetings by trying to understand how stakeholders might 'feel' about certain issues, changes, or projects; and
  • Realise emotions are contagious and people will 'catch' the dominant person's emotions and 'infect' others.

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