3 EQ-Related Factors All Women Leaders Must Focus On

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. We’ve been hearing this since John Gray published his famous book in 1992 (yes, it was that long ago!). As it turns out, his argument is true when it comes to emotional intelligence (EQ). A massive study conducted by the Korn Ferry Hay Group found that women score higher than men in 11 of 12 EQ measures (for the 12th, they score equally well – more on that below).

Now, I’m not saying that women are better leaders than men. The study’s authors specifically say that effective leaders (no matter their gender) are those who demonstrate emotional and social intelligence. 

After reading the Korn Ferry Hay study, along with another one I mention below, three things popped out at me. The following three EQ-related factors are very important for women leaders to be aware of.

1: Women align their self-perception with what their peers say.

Research has found that how women see themselves is often based on what peers say, not what they know in their heart is true. When men get negative feedback, it doesn’t change their self-perception. They are still sure of who they are and what they are capable of.

So where does EQ come in? With a higher EQ, you can look at feedback critically and honestly. You can say, “Yes, you are right – that one observation is spot on. But those other two observations are inaccurate and don’t reflect me.”

If your team is productive, collaborative, and hitting all its deadlines and deliverables, but a colleague says you’re not a good leader, take a step back. When you receive negative feedback like that, look at the facts, and don’t listen to the opinions.

Flexible self-perception is also tied to self-regard. If your self-regard is low or not as high as you would like it to be, work on it with a coach or therapist. One strategy you can use is to keep track of your accomplishments. Write them down daily, and soon you’ll have a long list of how you’ve positively impacted people’s lives.

2: Women who have a positive outlook, are more successful.

The Korn Ferry Hay study found that women are 9% more positive than men. A positive outlook is critical to your success – and I see this with my own clients.

Surround yourself with positivity. Identify the people in your life who make you feel good about yourself – friends, colleagues, family members – and spend more time with them.

Conversely, avoid or limit time with people who make you feel lousy about yourself. This is something you can actively control. If you have a negative colleague who pops their head into your office and asks for your time, tell them you only have five minutes to talk.

3: Emotional self-control is required by all successful leaders.

The same study also found that men and women perform equally well when it comes to emotional self-control. If your emotions often get the best of you and you feel like you’re going to explode, you need to work on your emotional self-control (also known as self-regulation).

One of the best strategies for self-control is to count to ten before responding. Another strategy I like is writing down what you want to say or how you’re feeling – but don’t send it. Look at it later in the day or even the next day. Then decide if it’s worth responding, or if you’d like to respond differently.

If you’d like additional strategies for increasing your self-regard, positivity or self-control, email me. I’ll send along a few more you can start using immediately. If you want to take an assessment to learn more about your Emotional Intelligence let me know.