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  • Jigsaw Kirby

Experts and EQ

Working without Emotional Intelligence is like working with one hand tied behind your back. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is clear; we can do more when we know our strengths and blind spots and how we interact with the people around us.

Experts have worked hard to develop a depth of knowledge in a particular field. Gladwell estimated that it takes 10,000 hours to develop expertise. Doctors spend upwards of 8 tortuous years learning to see and diagnose ailments of all kinds and specialists spend years longer. Remember hanging out with your friends in law school, or even better, during their first couple years with a firm? Of course you don’t. They were always studying or working. Many professional experts (doctors , lawyers, nurses, accountants) worked dutifully to develop their craft. They worked, often forgoing “frivolous” parties, sports and other activities in favor of other goals such as top of their high school class to get into a better college, top of their college class to get into the best post graduate programs, and then to be top 1st year lawyers, medical residents, or management trainees. They developed deep cognitive skills such as memorizing massive amounts of highly technical information, cause and effect scenarios and associative skills.

This is not a bad thing. These are the guys I want if my heart fails or a contract written. They are the best at what they know, Their mind is an amazing resource. They are really smart and too often they know it.

There is a cost for all this brilliance and it goes way beyond tuition. Too often the price is paid with blood sweat, tears, and lesser emotional development. It wasn’t a failing on the part of the experts, there just isn’t enough time to do it all. There isn’t time to focus on self-awareness such as knowing your patterns or triggers, emotional regulation, developing empathy, or even managing difficult conversations. Remember, these people are really smart and truly experts at the practice of law, medicine, or numbers, therefore they often move up. They manage other lawyers, doctors and nurses as well as a diverse collection of support staff. They have to work with others- therein lies the rub.

Brilliant mind/ Underdeveloped EQ

In some cases, these experts have great practices despite themselves. But they are leaving money on the table. As leaders, they set the tone when they walk in the door, often with little to no real understanding of what that means. Yes, they are hard on the problem/issue, These experts are some of the very best minds in their respective industries, but they can be too hard on the people. It is not uncommon that the team bends to serve the leader, but does that always best serve the client/patient/customer?

These experts are the best and they demand the best from those working for them. But is that what they are getting? It’s a given that power mutes empathy. So, while our experts may not be tyrants, if their team of (we will call them) sub-experts defer to the “boss” psychological safety is lessened and creativity is stifled.

There is an expression “to the novice the options are many. To the expert they are few”. Meaning experts often feel they already know an answer, while a novice will consider broader possibilities. To my mind, I want the knowledgeable and competent expert, but I want them to be open to hearing the wild ideas and thoughts of the other less-expert members of the team. Further, if an expert thinks they “know” the client situation, they may not get all the info they need.

So our experts need to be more than the brightest minds in their field, they need to be strong empathetic inclusive leaders. How do we get them there.


EI is a hot topic in today’s world and for a good reason. It’s the missing piece (see what I did there). Individuals and organizations are not realizing their full potential because there are not enough experts, or “best practices”. They are losing this value because a lack of emotional intelligence.

Surveys show that 70% of the population claims to be in the top 10% with regard to Emotional Intelligence. So, at best, 60% are wrong. My guess is among experts, the percentage is even higher. Why wouldn’t they think they are top 10%- they are tops in almost every other measure. In fact, given the statistics, I may well not be top 10% and I teach, write and think about Emotional Intelligence all the time. The truth is, these so called “soft” skills are difficult to master, but they are really important. The consulting group McKinsey estimates that half of long term success of any organization is driven by Emotional intelligence. In 2005, Harvard Business Review estimated that 87% of business issues were due to a lack of proper interpersonal skills… and 2005 was before the rise of texting as a major means of communication.

Many experts have read a book on Emotional Intelligence or EQ which is great, but knowledge of EI and integrating it are two very different things. Nothing is fully learned until it is applied. The good news is that Emotional Intelligence can be learned. Its not easy, but it doesn’t have to be that hard either.

To integrate and practice Emotional Intelligence requires self-awareness, another missing piece (see, I did it again). Without a good long look in the mirror, there is no way we can truly be responsible for the energy we bring into various situations. Self awareness does not require long retreats to visit yogis or meditating for hours every day. Self awareness can be gained (or at least begin to be gained) through a simple assessment. Owning one’s strengths and weaknesses without ego is the beginning of self awareness. The catch is the ego- self awareness and ego are not compatible. Remember, our experts have excelled in life and may believe they are relatively infallible, especially in the work arena. This further translates into other “awarenesses”, specifically social awareness and situational awareness. Once we have these, we are then able to flex appropriately and correctly for a given situation.

Here is a quick Chart that may better explain how this works

Please excuse the poor formatting- Tables do not translate to this blog

Emotional Intelligence

What I See What I Do

Personal Competence Self Awareness Self Management

Social Competence Social Awareness Relationship Mgmt

Emotional Intelligence allows experts to do what they do better. In the cases of Drs and lawyers, they will recognise the emotions at stake, be able to identify what is theirs and what belongs to the situation, enabling them to make a diagnosis and judgements from a calm place. This recognition also They are able to separate themselves and other people from the problem at hand while remaining fully engaged and more present than before. Less emotional exhaustion leads to less burnout (another looming problem for high performers).

The return on the investment of Emotional intelligence training goes well beyond the above issues for experts. On the business side of the practice the benefits are even greater :

Revenue (Sales) Retention/Absenteeism Effectiveness Engagement Communication (internal and external) Satisfaction(internal and external) Decision Making Hiring Leadership Market Awareness Teamwork Process Improvement.

To name a few…

Everything I mention here is direct benefit to the bottom line. An expert who adds Emotional Intelligence to his repertoire of skills will be happier, more productive, make more money, the organization will follow with greater satisfaction and efficiencies, and customer/client/patients will be realize better care and satisfaction with their services. Assuming the McKinsey study that claims average intellect practicing Emotional Intelligence will be more successful than our experts who are not 70% of the time, the investment in training is a no brainer.

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I feel like I was brought up with the understanding that emotions have no place at work. I chose a career in commercial real estate, in large part, because I wanted to avoid the “emotions” of resident

I think I have bits and pieces in all sorts of places and this will be were I will place them, as well as new content. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you come back soon

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