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How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

In this episode, Tim and Junior conclude their series on emotional intelligence (EQ) by discussing practical ways to improve it. They explain that EQ is a learnable skill that requires deliberate practice focused on improving behaviors. The key is consistently gathering feedback, monitoring your progress, and making incremental improvements over time.

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Episode Show Notes

In this episode, Tim and Junior conclude their series on emotional intelligence (EQ) by discussing practical ways to improve it. They explain that EQ is a learnable skill that requires deliberate practice focused on improving behaviors. The key is consistently gathering feedback, monitoring your progress, and making incremental improvements over time.

5 Key Takeaways with Timestamps
  1. EQ is a learnable skill, not a fixed trait (0:02:46) - Unlike IQ which is relatively stable, EQ can be improved significantly through effort and practice over time.
  2. Willingness and self-awareness are key to improvement (0:17:35) - You have to be willing to see your deficiencies clearly and put in the hard work to change your behavior.
  3. Motivation comes from within (0:30:18) - No one can give you motivation, you have to find it in yourself by considering the costs of not improving.
  4. You have to change your behavior (0:38:00) - You can't just think your way to better EQ, you have to deliberately practice new behaviors.
  5. It's an ongoing cycle (0:49:13) - Continuously self-monitor, gather feedback, improve your behaviors, and repeat. EQ improves incrementally with consistency.

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Episode Transcript

0:00:00.0 Producer: Welcome back Culture by Design listeners, it's Freddy one of the producers of the podcast. In today's episode, we will conclude our series on emotional intelligence by getting practical and actionable, talking about how to improve emotional intelligence. Previous episodes in this series had discussed what emotional intelligence is, how it's connected to your brand experience and your customers and its connection to psychological safety and team performance. Today, we finalize that discussion by getting practical and showing you exactly how you can improve emotional intelligence. Tim and Junior will make the case that emotional intelligence is a practical learnable skill, not a fixed trait. That means it's something that you can get better at with time, practice and experience. As always, this episode show notes can be found at leaderfactor.comforward/podcast, that includes a link to learn more about EQ index, our proprietary EQ assessment that will be making publicly available for individuals and teams early next year. Thanks again for listening, and thank you for your reviews. Enjoy today's episode on how to improve emotional intelligence.

0:01:20.2 Junior: I'm Junior, here with my co-host, Dr. Tim Clark and today we'll be discussing how to improve your emotional intelligence. Tim, how are you?

0:01:29.5 Tim: I'm excited to do a deeper dive into EQ today, Junior. Really excited about it.

0:01:34.9 Junior: Yeah, you and me both. It is the culminating episode of this series. For the last few episodes, we've defined emotional intelligence, we've positioned EQ in today's economy, we've shown their relationship between emotional intelligence and psychological safety. And today we're going to talk about what you and I can do to get better. So first, it's important to understand that emotional intelligence is a learnable skill, and this is where we're going to begin. The difference between a learnable skill and a fixed trait. So a fixed trait is something that's stable over time, think of physical traits, height, eye color, or cognitive abilities, your intelligence is relatively stable over time, personality traits, relatively stable, disposition and temperament. On the other side of fixed trait, we have learnable skills and these are abilities that can be learned or improved through practice and experience, they're not set in stone, they can be developed over time like playing an instrument, speaking a language, cooking, public speaking, and yes, emotional intelligence, which is our topic today, and understanding this difference at the outset helps us frame our approach to development.

0:02:46.7 Tim: I wanna press on that a minute, Junior, maybe parse that a little bit, because you said, look, we have fixed traits and we have learnable skills, and I agree, that's a pretty hard distinction though. It's a dichotomy, right? You're over here, you're over here. So I have a hard... I have a fixed trait or I have a learnable skill. We can make that distinction between something that is rigidly fixed and something that is enhanceable, so let's talk about that difference, meaning that you can make it a little better. So your eye color is rigidly fixed, you mentioned that. If you have blue eyes, they're gonna stay blue, at least you can't do anything to change the color of your eyes, but think about speed, we often say in sports, "Well, you can't coach speed." The truth is, you can't go from slow to fast, you can't take an average person and turn that person into a world class sprinter, you can't do that. That's never been done. You have to have certain physical endowments to be in that category, to even be eligible to be a world class sprinter, and if you don't have those endowments, it's not gonna happen. But we can take what you have and help you get a little better. For example, let's take the game of football, you could take a big offensive lineman.

0:04:11.1 Junior: American football for those listening.

0:04:12.8 Tim: American football, sorry.

0:04:14.4 Junior: We got people everywhere, we gotta clarify.

0:04:16.4 Tim: That's right. We gotta clarify. You could take a big offensive lineman, these are the biggest, biggest guys on the field, typically, they're all over 300 pounds today, and one of the standard measures of performance in American football is the 40-yard dash. How fast can you run 40 yards? So let's say we have a big offensive lineman that runs the 40-yard dash in 5.4 seconds. Okay, that's not really fast. We're not expecting these gentlemen to be speedsters, so 5.4 seconds. Can we help him get to 5.3? Yeah, we can do that. We can all agree on that. We can work on sprinting techniques, we can work on strength training, right Junior? We can work on explosiveness, we can work on your start, we can work on your stride, we can work on a lot of things, a lot of mechanics, and we can get you down to 5.3, maybe even 5.2.

0:05:19.8 Junior: But it is asymptotic. You can only take tenths off for so long and you're gonna hit diminishing marginal returns depending on what you go in with, right?

0:05:29.7 Tim: Yeah, that's true. It's very true. The reason I bring this up, we're talking about making enhancements, in some areas we can make enhancements. Is that what we're talking about when we talk about emotional intelligence? Are we saying that we can take you, the slow person, from 5.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash to 5.3 or maybe 5.2? That we can enhance your speed a bit? Or are we saying that you can make a more fundamental change, more fundamental gains? So I want you to think about this and I want you to think about what your answer is. If you look around, you may be tempted to say that the best you can do is make a marginal improvement in emotional intelligence, that you can enhance it. That's the question I'm raising.

0:06:26.6 Tim: So how much better can you get? And I'm going to argue that this is an area of life where you can become completely transformed. Now that's a bold claim, and to do this, it's more will than skill, right? You've got a combination of will and skill, to do this is more will than skill and we're gonna go into this later, Junior, aren't we? 'Cause we're gonna talk about coachability and coachability being a function of self-awareness and willingness. So I'm gonna hold you in suspense a little bit, but I'm going to make the claim and the bold assertion from the outset that you can do more than enhance your emotional intelligence. Okay? And we're gonna talk about the willingness and the self-awareness later on and how this works.

0:07:22.7 Junior: Tim, I wanna spend a second talking about the stakes, because I think it's appropriate to frame the stakes a little bit before we move further. Why is it that we should care that we can transform ourselves as it relates to emotional intelligence? What's the ROI? What's the cost of doing nothing? Now, if you go back to the fundamental definition of emotional intelligence, it's the ability to interact effectively with other people. Now, how does that affect your life personally and professionally? How would your life be different if you significantly improve your ability to interact with other people? Answering that question will help us frame the stakes, it'll help us understand the risk of doing nothing. There's tremendous risk in doing nothing, there's a tremendous risk in stasis, we talk about teams and organizations, businesses and stasis is the enemy, yet so often that's what we get and that's what we see as it relates to emotional intelligence with ourselves.

0:08:29.0 Tim: That's true. We see people that are stuck, they're in a state of equilibrium, they're high centered, they're kind of dead in a... And they're just where they are and they're not getting better. And it doesn't have to be that way. And we're gonna show you how and why this is true, and how your willingness really becomes the bottleneck, is the enabler, or a lack of willingness becomes the inhibitor. We're gonna talk about that.

0:08:54.8 Junior: Well, in answer to Tim's question, he posed the question, Can you make marginal gains or can you fundamentally transform? Now, if you looked just through observation and you looked generally and you look for a rule that might lead you to answer that question in a way that you can only make marginal improvements because that's what most people do, if they make any improvements at all. And so that's the irony here is that emotional intelligence is something that we can fundamentally transform and the stakes for doing so are very, very high. So if we can all agree, then we'll move into what we can do to become better. So how do we know that it can be improved? Because we have evidence, there's actually quite a large body of evidence we've seen time and time again in longitudinal studies that people can get better. And here's an interesting example that I found, there's a positive correlation between age and emotional intelligence, and I dived into a little bit of the research, what areas? Emotional understanding and emotional regulation, so if you plugged that into EQ index, it would probably be something like empathy and self-management, those are the skills that we're looking at that are positively correlated with age. And so we know that age alone as a variable is affecting our performance in these areas.

0:10:20.5 Junior: So why might this be? Experience softens us, the more we experience, the more we observe, the more appreciative we might become of the times in our lives that are a little bit more pleasant, a little bit more stable, I suppose you can be jaded as well, but we do see this positive correlation when we see someone go through something difficult, we may have more empathy over time because it's more likely that as time goes on, we ourselves will encounter something very difficult too. And so looking at that research has reinforced to me that this is something we can change and we can change pretty fundamentally, what do you think about that research, Tim, and the correlation between age and EQ?

0:11:02.6 Tim: I think it's absolutely true, but let's also remind ourselves that it's not merely the passage of time, that's doing this, right?

0:11:09.8 Junior: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

0:11:12.1 Tim: It's that we are allowing ourselves to learn through the experiences that we're having, it may be slow, it may be gradual, but we're making the choice, we're making the choice to learn and grow and develop, and to soften with time as we go through the experiences of life and the trials and the adversities of life. So we're making that choice. But you're right, Junior, we do have... There's an entire body of research literature now with children, with adolescents and with adults, we have the time series data that shows us that people can change, not just incrementally, not just a little bit at the margins, but pretty fundamentally.

0:12:03.1 Junior: On a something that we've seen in our own research too, we have a huge data set from EQ index and passing through that data and making sense of it, it's been interesting over the years. Okay, so how do we get better? Here's the core idea, the core idea as it relates to improving our emotional intelligence is deliberate practice. Now, there are a few things that have to come before that, and we'll talk about them, but that's the core idea is deliberate practice. And this is a type of practice specifically designed to improve performance and is characterized by a few things. You may have heard this concept before, deliberate practice differs from normal practice, let's say, in its purpose and its systems, it's more purposeful, it's more systematic, it's not just repetition. Repetition is what characterizes most practice, yet deliberate practice includes setting very specific goals, breaking down tasks into their component parts focusing on each component individually and it's effortful, it's not something that you can do while you're distracted or half asleep. Here's a very interesting one that characterizes deliberate practice. It's guided by feedback, it's most effective when you're able to get feedback from others. What do you think about that?

0:13:24.4 Tim: That's true. And Junior, weren't you... Didn't you spend some time with an Air Force pilot the other day that talked about how much time and effort they spend at debrief every time they go fly?

0:13:37.6 Junior: Yeah. Yeah, double. So if you have a 90-minute flight, then you've got at least double that, 180 minutes in debrief at least.

0:13:45.9 Tim: Really? That's kind of the rule of thumb?

0:13:47.6 Junior: Yeah.

0:13:48.2 Tim: So that guided by feedback is a crucial part of this. I wanna share a quote that I like, that's related to this, this is by famous virtuoso violinist Nathan Milstein. He said, "Once, when I became concern, because others around me practiced all day long... " So here he is he's learning the violin, and he's probably in the company of a bunch of music prodigies. He says, "I asked my professor, how many hours I should practice?" And he said, "It really doesn't matter how long, if you practice with your fingers no amount is enough. If you practice with your head two hours is plenty." Wow, that's insightful. What's the teacher talking about? What's this music professor getting at? I think he's getting at deliberate practice, Junior. Yeah.

0:14:46.2 Junior: Absolutely. And deliberate practice can be used to improve a wide range of skills, including the violin, you have music, you can use deliberate practice in sports, we've seen tons of examples in sports, medicine, business and yes, emotional intelligence, deliberate practice as it relates to emotional intelligence, and here's where we're gonna start diving in to the brass tacks. Now think about yourself, think about your emotional intelligence, the way you interact with other people, how might you go about breaking that down into its component parts, because if you remember, deliberate practice is about breaking something down the outcome into its component parts. So if I want to play a violin piece perfectly, am I gonna just play the whole thing all the way through every single time? No, I'm not. I'm gonna focus on a measure at a time.

0:15:41.9 Tim: Take an example, talk about piano. You play the piano very well, so what did you do to tackle like a new piece?

0:15:50.5 Junior: Well, I know a few people who play the piano well, and next to them, I'm quite amateurish, but to humor your point, you would break it down into measures, and sometimes pieces of measures, sometimes there are just two chords next to each other that are very difficult, and you might just practice going back and forth between those two, getting your fingers in the right place, making sure that your timing is appropriate, then you might add speed, and then you might incorporate dynamics. And so you're breaking all of these things down, you may do one hand at a time, you may do half the chord at a time, and you get all the way down, let's say that you have a 12-page piece. How many notes are in a 12-page piece, a few thousand?

0:16:37.0 Tim: Yeah.

0:16:38.1 Junior: I don't know, and you're focusing on just one or two little pieces of that, and the same is true with sports, you think about how many movements comprise one piece of one game, you're not going to go to soccer practice and practice soccer in a general sense, you're going to practice very specific things at a time. You might practice a corner kick, you might practice headers, you might practice left-footed 30-yard pass on the outside of your foot and you might drill that for 40 minutes. And so that's what we're talking about when we say break it down into its component parts, so we've talked about music, we've talked about sports, how does this relate to emotional intelligence, the two biggest components that are subset to EQ. Our willingness and self-awareness.

0:17:35.9 Junior: Now, these are the two elements of coachability that Tim mentioned at the beginning. Willingness and self-awareness. Understanding these two components is absolutely essential as it relates to improving our emotional intelligence, you cannot get around these two things, so suffice it to say when you go practice your EQ, you don't do it in a general sense. The first thing you might do is address this fork in the road and ask yourself, Where do we need to spend time? Is it a willingness issue? Is it a self-awareness issue? Invariably, it's going to be both, but we're probably gonna lean one way, so understanding those two things is very important. So Tim, tell us more about those two and how have you seen these play out in your work with leaders?

0:18:23.0 Tim: Oh man. Well, I think performance lives at the intersection of these two things Junior. Every time without exception. So, let's talk about the self-awareness part first. Self-awareness is what allows you, think about this, to process feedback and create a learning loop. If you have no awareness and you're not developing that self-awareness, you can't process feedback. So you're not taking your environment in, you're not taking the feedback in, you're not creating a learning loop where you can get better. But if you can start doing that, the greater your self-awareness, the more you're able to interpret the responses of others to you, the more you're able to self-diagnose and self-correct. Let me take an example, because that may sound abstract. So what are you talking about? Let's take an example from the world of writing and writers. So many of you know... Many of you listeners know David McCullough, a famous biographer.

0:19:42.3 Tim: He passed away, what was it last year? He wrote John Adams, the book, John Adams. He wrote 1776. He wrote Mornings on Horseback. He wrote just amazing books. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice. He won the National Book Award. He's just an incredible writer. This is what he said. He said, you have to be able to edit yourself meaning that you have to be able to edit your own work. Well, what does that mean? How is that related to self-awareness? It means that you have to be able to render judgment on what you have created. You have to know not just whether it's good or bad, but how good is it. You have to know. You have to be able to break it down. You have to come at your work with a trained eye and ear, right? So if you're a writer, you have to be able to hear the music of your own language and see the strengths and the deficiencies.

0:20:47.4 Tim: If you can't do that, if you have to rely heavily on others, other people to tell you if it's good or bad to edit for you to give you feedback because you can't see it yourself, you're not going to go very far. So it's the same principle with emotional intelligence. The more self-aware you become, the more you can accelerate your own development. You've learned how to process feedback. You've learned how to see yourself clearly. More importantly, you've learned how to now give yourself feedback. So it's the difference in psychology, we'd say it's the difference between thinking and metacognition, right? So you think, but then your metacognition is to be able to think about the way you think. You see the distinction, that's absolutely huge in understanding this. So one last example. Let's talk about the feedback loop in sports, Junior. And we just talked a little bit about this, but I want to bring in one more concept here Junior.

0:21:48.0 Tim: In nearly every sport today, athletes go back and what do they do? They watch video, they watch footage of themselves performing. They spend hours doing this often. I did this when I was in college playing football. But here was the problem. We as athletes, and this is years ago, but back then we as athletes, we never weaned off the dependency of our coaches. It was constantly, oh, you should have done this. You did this wrong. Why didn't you do this, again and again and again. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about being able to do this yourself, for yourself. You have to be able to self-coach through your self-awareness, right? So the underlying principle of self-awareness is this. If you don't see yourself clearly, you don't progress, you don't get better. You're stuck. Now, what do you think so far Junior? Is that resonating with you?

0:22:54.1 Junior: It is. And I have to ask the question why is the awareness important in the first place? And how does this attach to what we're saying? The awareness will help us identify deficiencies and not just deficiencies strengths as well and we can use that information too.

0:23:11.9 Tim: That's right.

0:23:12.0 Junior: But we want to improve those deficiencies. It's more likely that we will be hurt as it relates to EQ from a deficiency than it will be not taking advantage of a strength, right? And sometimes these deficiencies are painfully obvious and we know what we need to do, in which case, we've gotta really work on the willingness. It's not so much an awareness thing, but sometimes these deficiencies are not obvious to us. Even if we have great intent in that case, we may need a little bit of help. And there are a few things that we can do to get that help to subsidize, or I guess supplement is a better word our awareness. We've got formal assessment and we have less formal exploration with the help of other people, the information might have to come from other people. One of the things that we might ask, we could go to somebody and say, Hey, what's the one thing that's holding back?

0:24:13.2 Junior: You know, if it were yourself, me, as it relates to their interactions with other people, right? What would you say if someone asked you that question? And we won't use the term EQ, we'll just say their ability to interact effectively with others, right? And we ask this question in formal assessment in the multi-rater version of EQ index. And the feedback that we get from that is really, really interesting. And you may see things, you may hear things from people that you didn't suspect. So I get what you're saying, and it is making sense to me. Awareness is the bedrock. If you don't have that, you can't move forward. If you have a lot of willingness and you have little self-awareness, that's an interesting combination. You could have the opposite combination of a lot of awareness and no willingness. So you can see how these things work together and how you have to have both in order to sustain improvement over time.

0:25:06.8 Tim: I'll even take it a step further, Junior. I think self-awareness is a moral capacity. And this is where self-awareness and willingness, I think they intersect. I think they bleed into each other and there's no discernible boundary between the two. Here's why I think that you have to allow yourself to see yourself clearly. You're the bottleneck, you are the limiting factor. Is that so hard to allow yourself to see yourself clearly? Is that so hard? Yes. It's the hardest part. It requires courage. It requires honesty. It requires humility. If you don't have the moral capacity to see yourself clearly, you will go down the road of deflection. It's not like you have all these different options. You either see yourself clearly, or you will go down the road of deflection, which includes denial and blame and excuse and hiding. It's not easy to see yourself clearly.

0:26:11.5 Tim: Sometimes it's very painful. So it's a lot easier to self-medicate with denial. If you don't like what you see, that's going to create dissonance within you. And as a human, you're going to move immediately to remove or reduce the dissonance, because the dissonance is painful. Humans don't like that state of disharmony. So we've gotta change that. So you either confront the truth and maintain your self-awareness, which requires you to get a little better, or you jump back into the distortion. So what am I saying? Well, essentially I'm saying that self-awareness requires you, at some point it requires you to hold yourself accountable. This is where self-awareness and willingness intersect. They come together at the point of personal accountability. So if you want more self-awareness you have to hold yourself even more accountable. Now, that may sound a little scary, but it's actually liberating. So think about how those two come together. The self-awareness and the willingness intersect at the point of personal accountability. And then we get to choose, well, what are we going to do? Are we gonna try to stay in self-awareness, gain more self-awareness, or should we exit out the back door?

0:27:42.3 Junior: So to this point, to summarize a little bit. Let's say that you're a listener who wants to improve their emotional intelligence. The first thing to do is say, okay, I have two levers that I can pull. Willingness and self-awareness, which of those is my issue? For many of us, we'll be able to say in about two and a half seconds what one of our biggest deficiencies is. If we can do that, and we know, well, yeah, this area, this is something that I can improve, we're left with the willingness lever. This one is tricky. And I wanna ask you, Tim, how do you go about treating a willingness issue? Let's say that we've solved for awareness, and we've done that either through introspection, we've done that through feedback from other people, we've done that through formal assessment. We've explored all of those channels, and those channels have come back to us with something and they're saying, Hey, over here, this is the deficiency. This is what's holding you back. Now we have this choice and we can blame, deny, or excuse, we can go hide, or we can try to summon the courage and the willingness to go and improve that deficiency. Go meet it head on. But how do you do that? If the deficiency is willingness, how can we solve for that?

0:29:13.1 Tim: Well, you're asking maybe the central question of human nature, as you said. How do you summon, how do you summon willingness? This goes to the heart of human motivation. So the first thing that I would do that might be helpful to think about is, is just distinguish between two kinds of motivation. What is motivation? Motivation comes from Latin roots that mean that which propels us, that which moves us, right? It's mobility, it's moving, it's taking action. There are two kinds of motivation, motivation towards something. And motivation away from something, motivation towards something is based on attraction. So I'm moving towards something that is desirable, that I want motivation away from something is repulsion. I'm moving away from something that I don't want, that is unpleasant or painful. And both of these forms of motivation come into play in our lives, right?

0:30:18.4 Tim: And sometimes we're motivated by a combination, some mixture of motives that includes both motivation toward and motivation from. The thing is Junior is that no one... This is always gonna be true. No one can give you their motivation, no one can give you more motivation. You have to generate that and find it within yourself. And exactly that becomes a function of your agency, your volition, your free will as a human being. And that's what we know. So there's a mystery there when we go to the heart of it. But the good news is, I think the really good news is, is that we do have the power to make the choice and to get better. And that's the liberating part of all of this. We do have the ability to get better. We need some help. And I love what you said earlier, and I think subsidized is a good word. We need to be subsidized with feedback. And the feedback may motivate us towards something or away from something depending on the kind of feedback that we get. But we need rich and consistent doses of feedback to help us. But it ultimately comes down to individual choice, doesn't it?

0:31:45.0 Junior: Yeah. Well, I agree that we need both types of motivation. And there have been interesting studies, some of you may be familiar with this, but they put rats in a box. They put cheese on one end, they attached a spring to a scale to see how hard the rats pulled. And let's say that the rat pulled the equivalent of two pounds in an effort to go get the cheese. And you would think the cheese would be pretty motivating on the other side, they put the scent of a cat and then they measured how hard the rat pulled, a lot harder. And so it's appropriate to have something that we're moving towards and certainly something behind us. So I've been thinking about this question myself as you were talking too, about how do you treat a willingness issue? And one of the things that I think is really effective for me in framing the stakes and framing this question is to think about those who have influenced me the most across time.

0:32:42.2 Junior: So if you think about your current position in life, just your entire life put together, your position in that life is a function of a whole bunch of stuff, not least your own decision making, but also not least the influence of other people. Now, there have probably been inflection points in your life that were influenced by other people. It's more than likely that you can go back and look at a handful of interactions that you had with different people that heavily influenced where you are today. Now, some of those may have been pathological, but I'm not talking about those ones. I'm talking about the interactions that were healthy that you had with someone who influenced you to get to a certain place, to become better, to take a certain path. Now, what characterized that interaction? It was probably high emotional intelligence. And the biggest part of that emotional intelligence was regard.

0:33:43.7 Junior: So again, this plays into the definition that we see for emotional intelligence and the incorporation of regard. They had high regard for you. They thought that you mattered. And so for me the thing that I do now to help find my own personal motivation is to think about where I would be without that interaction. I would be in a different place. I would probably be in a worse place if I had not had those interactions with those people who had high regard. And so then the question becomes for me, can I be that person for someone else? Can interact with people in a way such that they look back and say, Ooh, there that interaction. That was an inflection point. This person cared. They thought that I mattered. They had high awareness. They said the right thing at the right time because of that awareness and they behaved in the right way such that they influenced me to make a better decision or go a certain way or consider a question or whatever the case may be.

0:34:46.5 Junior: We find ourselves in these interactions all the time. And so that's one of the ways that for me, I can generate a little bit more of that willingness because it helps me appropriately frame the stakes. I can see what's on the table and I can see, ooh, if I don't do this, if I don't overcome this deficiency, what do I risk? I risk not only my own position in life, but the ability to influence others. Now you take our name LeaderFactor. What are we here for? We believe that the leader is the biggest factor in any outcome. And so it's up to us to go and influence those outcomes. And how do we do that? Through people. And what's effective interaction? High EQ. So once you start playing a little bit with these pieces, it becomes more clear what's at risk. And that helps me personally find the motivation to improve.

0:35:35.8 Tim: Now, I really appreciate that Junior. And What I hear at least a couple of points that are coming out very clearly from your comments would be that you consider the opportunity costs carefully. You're looking at the options and you're looking at what you forego if you do something or don't do something. And then number two, what I heard you say, in other words, is that one of the deepest sources of motivation for you to become willing is just gratitude as you reflect on the impact that others have had on you at critical points in your life. Is that fair?

0:36:17.6 Junior: Yeah, that's very fair. If you were to lay out all of the variables that have affected my current position, the high EQ of other people would be heavily weighted, right? And I really had to be honest with that as I've thought through this. There have been teachers, there have been coaches, there have been friends, and so much of where I am today and the things that I enjoy and I'm grateful for really tie back to, you know, not 10,000 interactions, but maybe a dozen or a couple dozen that really made an impact. And I would encourage each of us to think back and think about those types of interactions we've had and what characterized those. And I think that that can be pretty healthy and pretty durable motivation.

0:37:07.0 Tim: I do too.

0:37:08.1 Junior: Okay, so let's take an example, and I wanna run it through what we've talked about today and get down to brass tacks, let's say that my deficiency of which I've become aware through, let's say my own introspection and assessment or other people. Let's say, it's ego management. So that's my deficiency. Now, I need to identify some way to improve that deficiency and you probably know where we're gonna go with this, because we've talked about this so frequently over time, the change has to be behavioral, we're not going to think our way to higher emotional intelligence. We need to go and do something. So Tim what do you think about that? Just that piece of logic alone that we need to go and change our behavior, we behave a certain way, we can't think our way there.

0:38:00.7 Tim: Right, yeah. You're not gonna think your way there, so what has to change? So you take EQ index and it comes up that ego management is a liability for you, you know you've gotta change your head, what you think and what you understand, you've gotta change your hands, your actions and behaviors, and you've gotta change your heart, your values and beliefs. Well, what can you get to work on right away? You can certainly understand... You're already understanding what it is and the need to get better so that your understanding is already elevated. What can you get to work on right away? Are you gonna cross this threshold of conviction because of your understanding that this is a deficiency and you're gonna be there? No. You gotta behavior your way there, this is behavioral. So you gotta jump into behavior.

0:38:54.4 Junior: Yeah. So we use EQ index with our clients, we have for many years and one of the skills in EQ index is ego management, so that's something that you would get a score for after the assessment, and then based on that score, we have recommendations. And so the recommendations, I pulled a few from ego management to help us through this and here are several. Manage the urge you have to be right, remember where you came from, avoid blaming others, resist the temptation to believe that you are a victim and are not responsible, build people up behind their backs, validate the worth of other people in their presence, point out what is right, stop complaining about what is wrong, acknowledge that you need the love, support and guidance of other people.

0:39:45.2 Junior: Now, these are just a few, and the hope is along with and potentially not, but potentially alongside some coaching to identify those behaviors that you think will have the biggest ROI as it relates to that skill for you. So let's say that inside ego management, you have a tendency to be very critical of other people and let's say that you do that both in public and in private. You might go through this list and one of them might stand out to you, it might be build people up behind their backs, I love this as a behavior. So what does this mean? It means compliment, reinforce, support other people when they're not in the room. Have you ever seen people do this? Where they'll give kudos to somebody who really worked on a project, they're not even there, so you know that they're not trying to do anything weird, right? This isn't just flattery in public. This like, Hey, you know, I really appreciate this person who showed up this way. That behavior is antagonistic to unhealthy ego. Right?

0:40:56.8 Tim: It sure is.

0:40:57.8 Junior: So there are things that we can do behaviorally to overcome these deficiencies. So what do you think about that list? Are there any that stand out to you that you think are...

0:41:07.2 Tim: Yeah, I really like the list Junior. These are concrete behaviors that you can focus on, now you may not focus on all of them at once, but you can take a couple of these and you can be very deliberate about trying to apply those daily, on a daily basis. For example, take number one manage the urge you have to be right. Okay, what do I do with that? Well, let's say I've got three meetings today, I'm going to go into the meeting and I'm going to write myself a prompt on my phone or maybe even on a piece of paper and I'm gonna put that down, "Manage the urge you have to be right." You're putting yourself on notice, you're becoming hyper-aware of yourself as you go into a meeting, and you're going to monitor yourself, your interactions, what you say, how you say it and this is going to give you a way to operationalize the management of your ego. So it has to be concrete, it has to be specific enough as these recommendations are, so that you can literally focus on one or two at a time in a given situation or a setting. That's where we start to get traction. And as you're applying it, you're also thinking about it, so you're reflecting, you're in a feedback loop with yourself doing, what did we just say before? You've gotta learn to self-diagnose and self-correct. You gotta do it yourself, so you're becoming a coach, you're coaching yourself, but you can't coach yourself effectively unless you're focused on specific things that you're trying to do.

0:43:01.2 Junior: Yeah. So those are the first couple of steps, we identify the deficiency, then we identify a behavior that will improve that deficiency. Then we go and put it into practice. So as Tim said, we might take one of these and focus on it for a day or a week, might be two or three, and then the next step is we observe the consequences of the behavior. What happens as we implement the behaviors? We have to be aware and so we come out of those three meetings at the end of the day, and we say, How did it go? And we unpack it, we watch film as it were. We debrief the flight session, and maybe it takes twice as long as the actual flight, as we were saying, and when we do that, we should write down our findings. How did it go in those three meetings? Well, I was able to hear more points of view, I listened more, I saw a perspective that I probably wouldn't have considered if I just tried to solve the problem upfront, so on and so forth. Now, if you can generate, let's say that you did that for a week and at the end of every day, you write down all of your observations, what are you left with, almost undoubtedly a massive body of evidence that the behaviors you're working on actually work. You've experienced positive outcomes because of your behavioral change. Now that will help create more motivation to continue to do this over time.

0:44:34.5 Junior: So what we're left with at the end of that is improved EQ, that's how this works. And if you do that intently enough with deliberate practice and you do it long enough, that is how you will be able to achieve transformation, not marginal change, transformation. And we've seen this with people, we've seen it with ourselves, the ability to make massive change in the way that you interact with other people by tweaking these behaviors and going through this feedback loop. I love the way that you said that it's a feedback loop because it is, this is a cycle, it goes on and on and on, you identify the deficiency, maybe we've solved for what once is a deficiency and we have something else that's lurking out there that my derail us, go solve that. And over time, your deficiencies are going to be relatively strong.

0:45:29.4 Tim: Junior, let me challenge the process a little bit.

0:45:32.8 Junior: Sure.

0:45:34.8 Tim: Why can't I just watch other people do this? We're talking about improving ego management as a skill, as an emotional intelligence skill, why can't I just watch other people do this who do it really well? Why can't I learn primarily through observation that way? Or you can tell me what I need to do and why it works and how it's worked for you, so you can give me your testimonial. I can watch other people and I'm sure that's important, right? But why can't we just do it that way?

0:46:09.2 Junior: That's a good question. Well, you can't do it, you can't do anything until you do it.

0:46:18.3 Tim: Ahh! Okay.

0:46:19.0 Junior: So let's say that you wanna learn how to write a bike. That's nice. You can watch other people ride bikes, but do you really know how to ride a bike? No, you haven't ridden a bike until you've ridden a bike. And so that might seem facetious, it's not, it's like you have to go and do the thing.

0:46:38.2 Tim: Well, but I can read a bunch of books about it too.

0:46:41.1 Junior: Sure. But then you've...

0:46:41.8 Tim: There are books about ego management, so I could read the entire literature on this topic.

0:46:49.6 Junior: Yeah, well, how do you get better at riding a bike? By riding a bike, and how do you get better at managing your ego? By managing your ego, there's no other way around, you can't skirt around it, you can't leap over it, you have to go right through, you have to square up to the thing that needs to be done and then you need to go and do it, bottom line.

0:47:09.0 Tim: I agree. I agree, I think it's... I'm just trying to poke holes in this for listeners, I don't know how you get there other than through self-discovery, I don't know how you do it. It has to be experiential and your experience is not my experience.

0:47:29.9 Junior: Yep.

0:47:30.6 Tim: I can learn from your experience.

0:47:32.3 Junior: Yes.

0:47:33.4 Tim: But I can't get there, through your experience.

0:47:37.8 Junior: We need models, and we're not saying that you don't need models, and that it's...

0:47:42.0 Tim: No, we do need models.

0:47:42.9 Junior: We absolutely do. And that's fundamentally how we learn over time and it is helpful to identify people that do manage their ego as well and take some cues, see how they handle situations, but all of that is just information, it needs to become action, it needs to get translated, so that you can know for yourself that those things work and then you can experience the benefits.

0:48:02.8 Tim: That's right.

0:48:05.1 Junior: That is the cycle, identify the deficiency, identify the behavior that will improve the deficiency, practice the behavior, observe and document the consequences of the behavior and do it again. So those are some of the component parts that we can then use in deliberate practice over time to improve our EQ. So if you wanna understand better your strengths and your deficiencies, take EQ index, and here's the plug, please check out the link in the show notes, because EQ index is going to become available to the public in the coming weeks. Now, why is this important? Because this will help you on the awareness front, it will show you what your strengths and your deficiencies are, which in concert with your own introspection and other people, will make a very effective combination in helping improve your emotional intelligence. So go ahead and check that out. So to summarize, EQ is a learn-able skill that requires a deliberate practice and as you self-monitor, you gather feedback and you consistently improve your behavior, your emotional intelligence will increase and your relationships will improve. Tim, any final thoughts today?

0:49:13.2 Tim: No, I just love that process and it's an ongoing process, which makes it a cycle, so you self-monitor, you gather feedback, you improve and you do it again.

0:49:24.7 Junior: Love it. Well, that's our invitation to you, it's our invitation to ourselves, let's go and do it. If you found value in today's episode, please like subscribe and send to a friend. Thank you for your listenership and we'll see you next episode, bye bye.


0:49:46.9 Producer: Hey, Culture by Design listeners, this is the end of today's episode. You can find all the important links from today's episode at And if you found today's episode helpful and useful in any way, please share it with a friend and leave a review. If you'd like to learn more about LeaderFactor and what we do then please visit us at Lastly, if you'd like to give any feedback to the Culture by Design Podcast or even request a topic from Tim and Junior, then reach out to us at or find and tag us on LinkedIn. Thanks again for listening and making culture something you do by design, not by default.


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Episode Transcript

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