The Real Reason Your Boss Lacks Emotional Intelligence
Over the past century, the heartless, no-nonsense CEO has become something of an icon—and a cliché—in American society. Hollywood would have us believe that the Machiavellian chief exec is still alive and well.
But that’s just TV, right? How about in the real world? Do businesses still allow these inhumane relics to survive?
To find out, TalentSmart analyzed the emotional intelligence (EQ) profiles of the million-plus people in our database—workers from the frontlines to the C-suite. We discovered that the answer is yes, organizations today do promote the emotionally inept … except when they don’t. Allow me to explain.
We found that EQ scores climb with titles from the bottom of the corporate ladder upward toward middle management.
Middle managers stand out with the highest EQ scores in the workplace because companies tend to promote people into these positions who are level-headed and good with people. The assumption here is that a manager with a high EQ is someone for whom people will want to work.
But things change drastically as you move beyond middle management.
For the titles of director and above, scores descend faster than a snowboarder on a black diamond. CEOs, on average, have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace.
The trick is, for every title in the graph above, the top performers are those with the highest EQ scores.
Even though CEOs have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace, the best-performing CEOs are those with the highest EQs. You might get promoted with a low EQ, but you won’t outshine your high-EQ competition in your new role.
The higher you go above middle management, the more companies focus on metrics to make hiring and promotion decisions. While these short-term, bottom-line indicators are important, it’s shortsighted to make someone a senior leader because of recent monetary achievements. Possibly worse than metrics, companies also promote leaders for their knowledge and tenure, rather than their skill in inspiring others to excel.
Companies sell themselves short by selecting leaders who aren’t well-rounded enough to perform at the highest levels for the long term.
Once leaders get promoted they enter an environment that tends to erode their emotional intelligence. They spend less time in meaningful interactions with their staff and lose sight of how their emotional states impact those around them.
It’s so easy to get out of touch that leaders’ EQ levels sink further.