by Susan Hileman, NWIRC Strategic Business Advisor

When working with companies on improving culture, topics often requested are along the lines of Leadership Skills, Effective Communications and Generational Diversity. It’s not uncommon to hear comments such as “Well, Joe’s the boss but he and John don’t really get along, because Joe can’t seem to make decisions. It creates problems for the team to work together.” So, what can you do to improve this?

We all know co-workers who have great relationships with others on the team. They are friendly, show an interest in each person’s professional development and are supportive and encouraging about their growth both as an employee and as a person. They are a great example of team leaders we want to work with and for! Many of us however have also been exposed to other kinds of bosses and co-workers who, while they might be very intelligent, at their best they are unapproachable or unwilling to hold others accountable. And, at their worst, wreck havoc with the team through power struggles or angry outbursts. It can be extremely stressful to work in that type of environment, eventually contributing not only to professional disruptions but also a variety of health issues. Patrick Lencioni described this in “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” as an absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results—all which can easily ruin team efforts.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ (emotional quotient) as it’s known, is the ability to recognize both our own emotions and of those around us. It’s being able to discern between these different types of feelings and use the information to manage and guide our own thinking and behavior whether through conflict management or persuading others on your team why your idea will work best! Like all communication-based efforts, EQ is a skill that can be learned and improved upon! What can you do to improve your EQ, strengthen personal relationships with your co-workers and achieve greater career success on both a personal and professional level?

  • Take responsibility for your own feelings and actions
  •  Learn how to engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas
  • Respect and validate other’s feelings—even if (or, especially if!) different from your own
  • Hold each other accountable
  • Build trust within your team through honesty

Emotional intelligence is not about being emotional. It is about learning to be aware, acknowledging the emotions and allow them to guide your thinking and behavior. Growth doesn’t just happen, each person must take responsibility for themselves because no one else will do it for you.

Side Note: The NWIRC’s Susan Hileman will be presenting an interactive half-day workshop on Emotional Intelligence on Jan 7 in Meadville and Jan 29 in DuBois.
Register at