The era of statements such as “I don’t mix my work and my feelings” has long since passed. Today’s new leaders and executives in every position are aware that the key to success lies in using emotional intelligence. A global survey by TalentSmart, covering 100,000 executives on six continents, shows that the emotional intelligence of executives falls as they move up the management ladder. The worst news concerns CEOs because the survey shows that CEOs have the lowest levels of emotional intelligence.
Management experts believe that ‘Emotional Intelligence (EQ)’ is one of the most important characteristics of successful leadership. The extraordinary innovations of leaders who have high emotional intelligence and can use their motivational abilities to create excitement in their companies feature extensively in management lessons.
Emotional intelligence has become closely associated with the concept of leadership and researchers have begun to try to measure the levels of emotional intelligence of today’s executives. But a survey of modern executives’ emotional intelligence has produced some interesting results. The study shows that CEOs, whom we had assumed had the highest levels of emotional intelligence, actually have lower levels of emotional intelligence than their subordinates.
Are Ceos Heartless?
This important survey was conducted by the founders of the TalentSmart consulting company. Research by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, who are the authors of the book entitled “The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book”, showed that, as people move up the career ladder, their emotional intelligence score falls. The main conclusions of the survey conduced by these two management experts and which covered 100,000 executives, were as follows:
- Emotional intelligence varies according to the management position. The emotional intelligence score falls a little with each rise on the management ladder, falling from 77 out of 100 at supervisor level to 77.5 at the manager level.
- The executives with the lowest emotional level on the career ladder were what Bradberry and Greaves describe as the ‘heartless’ CEOs with a score of 70.
- In the last few years in particular, a lot of studies have been published which stress the relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership. Most of these studies indicate that the most successful executives have the highest EQ level.
Studies have indicated that success is 75 percent attributable to emotional intelligence; some even suggest that the share may be as high as 90 percent.
In such circumstances, the results of the survey by Bradberry and Greaves look surprising. Both researchers have questioned the results, asking: “How can it be that people who need emotional intelligence so much can have so little of it?” Bradberry explains their conclusions as follows:
“It seems that companies are still interested not in how the executives run the company but in what they know and their length of service.”
The Higher The Position, The Lower The EQ
The two experts asked themselves the following question: “Why does the EQ fall with a rise in position?” According to Travis Bradberry, the basic reason is the change in the physical working conditions and the executives’ job descriptions. He believes that executives who rise to the very top devote less time to their subordinates as they climb the career ladder. They do not devote as much attention to their staff as they did at middle level management. Bradberry has the following to say about this issue: “When executives rise to the top, they devote less the time and attention to their subordinates. When they are in middle management executives have closer relations with their colleagues and staff. As they spend more time with them, they hone talents such as noticing and understanding what is going on and solving problems.”
Tanyer Sönmezer, General Manager of the Management Center Türkiye, agrees with the results of the survey. In fact, he says that he was not surprised by the results. Sönmezer thinks that it is normal that executives in middle management have higher levels of emotional intelligence than CEOs. His comments are similar to those Bradberry’s.
“Because middle management has more direct contact with people. They do not spent their daily lives in meeting rooms on in front of computer screens.”
Infonet General Manager Taner Özdeş attributes this phenomenon to fears of ‘losing authority’. Özdeş says: “Executives who rise to high positions, try to use this by putting a distance between themselves and their subordinates. They try to come face to face with them as little as possible.”
“I Use Eq When Recruiting”
Experts believe that emotional intelligence becomes even more important in systems where the emphasis is on personal relationships, such as in Turkey. A problem which arises in any part of the chain of relationships can threaten the entire organization. For this reason, companies need to adopt a strategy which emphasizes emotional intelligence, particularly at the middle and higher levels of management.
But how much can high-level executives do this in Turkish companies?
Goldaş General Manager Sedat Yalınkaya says that his job means that he is always meeting new people and holding interviews. “This is where my emotional abilities really help,” he says. “I use them to be able to understand the person in front of me as well as possible and also make myself understood to them.”
TNT Express General Manager Turgut Yıldız says that he uses emotional intelligence more when recruiting someone to, or dismissing them from, a key position. Yıldız says: “My emotional intelligence helps me when it comes to understanding what benefit or disadvantage will accrue from the person in front of me. In addition, I use my emotional intelligence to manage change in important strategic projects and entrench it in a company.”
Software AG Türkiye General Manager Yüce Erim says that he trusts his emotional intelligence. “An executive does not have the luxury of discarding his emotional intelligence and acting without reference to it. Making a move without emotional intelligence is suicide.”